University of Leicester
2021RobbinsSPHD abridged.pdf (3.07 MB)

School Leaders’ Experiences of Knowledge Management in a Swiss Private School: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

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posted on 2021-11-30, 12:22 authored by Steven Robbins
This thesis provides an in-depth exploration of the perceptions and lived experiences of school leaders in the context of a private Swiss international school. It aims to explore how school leaders perceive the phenomenon of knowledge management and the enablers and barriers to its practice, a new area of study that is under-researched. Semi-structured interviews were carried out remotely using self-transcribing and selfvalidating methods with eight participating school leaders who shared similar job descriptions and responsibilities. The transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and respecting the hermeneutical approach described by Heidegger. Three super-ordinate themes emerged from the analysis: ‘common language and professional development’, ‘socialisation and knowledge flow’ and ‘behaviour’. These themes reveal qualities and behaviours as well as pragmatic considerations for knowledge management that are supported in the literature and that can be applied in schools by school leaders. Discussions of the findings lead to a synthesis of the school leaders’ perspectives and the VISION illustration of knowledge management and school leadership. This crystallisation of the school leaders’ experiences is presented as both a theoretical illustration, offering qualities that could be developed in school leadership at the heart of any KM practice but also as practical means for implementing a KM strategy. Through a comparison with concepts arising in the literature, the emerging themes from the study are given greater depth of understanding with regard to their application for school leaders. This thesis reveals a number of implications of knowledge management practices for school leadership from an area of research that has been limited to the business industry for the last 30 years. I conclude by stressing how important it is for school leaders to implement knowledge management practices and I make suggestions for further research and training possibilities. The syntheses of currently available literature on the subject of knowledge management, the findings and discussions of implications may be of interest to aspiring or practicing school leaders.



Wei Zhang; Alison Fox

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Education

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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