Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

No 2012:16: The headmaster ritual: the importance of management for school outcomes

Anders Böhlmark (), Erik Grönqvist and Jonas Vlachos ()
Additional contact information
Anders Böhlmark: Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Postal: SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Erik Grönqvist: IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, Postal: P O Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Jonas Vlachos: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: The role of school principals largely resembles that of corporate managers and the leadership they provide is often viewed as a crucial component for educational success. We estimate the impact of individual principals on various schooling outcomes, by constructing a principal-school panel data set that allows us to track individual principals as they move between schools. We find that individual principals have a substantive impact on school policies, working conditions and student outcomes. Particularly, students who attend a school with a one standard deviation better principal receive on average 0.12 standard deviations higher test scores. Despite having very rich background information on principals, it is difficult to determine which principal characteristics that form the basis for successful school management. We also find a somewhat mixed picture on what management style characterizes a successful principal. We further show that the scope for principal discretion—for better or for worse—is larger in small schools, in voucher schools and in areas with more school competition.

Keywords: Principals; School Management

JEL-codes: I20

45 pages, September 24, 2012

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