Your browser has javascript turned off or blocked. This will lead to some parts of our website to not work properly or at all. Turn on javascript for best performance.

The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Successful Swedish headmasters in tension fields and alliances


Summary, in English

What makes a headmaster successful? And what does a successful headmaster do? This article presents some results from a research project – Successful school leadership in different school cultures – that aims to provide answers to these questions. The results derive from interviews, questionnaires, observations and pupils’ essays, and comprise the criteria by which different parties involved in schools assess the success of headmasters. As with other research in this field, this article establishes that headmasters find themselves in tension fields that are constituted by the varied interests of the different parties involved in schools. These relationships are analysed with regard to three tension fields that affect Swedish schools today: between employer and employees; between pupils and adults; and between change and continuity.
However, the work lives of headmasters isn’t characterised by tensions only, but by Alliances as well. Hence, headmasters’ alliances with various other parties within the school are also analysed. These alliances are both a way of dealing with the tensions that headmasters meet on a daily basis, and a way of creating both success and a leadership based on the school culture. However, the general development trend that we find in Swedish schools, which lift the headmaster out of the school to become the last among superiors rather than the first
among equals, constricts the latitude for more culture-specific school leadership.

Publishing year







International Journal of Leadership in Education




1 (January-March 2005)

Document type

Journal article




  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • Educational Sciences


  • successful headmasters
  • tension fields
  • school culture
  • alliance
  • school leadership
  • sociology
  • educational sciences
  • skolforskning
  • sociologi
  • skolledarskap
  • skolkultur
  • skolkulturer
  • utbildningsvetenskap




  • Framgångsrikt skolledarskap i olika skolkulturer


  • ISSN: 1360-3124