School reforms, principal leadership, and teacher resistance: Evidence from Korea

Joo Ho Park, Dong Wook Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Many countries design and implement school change with a focus on the fundamental reconfiguration in the structures of schooling. In this article, we examined the relationship between principal leadership and teacher resistance to school reforms driven by external interveners. For an empirical analysis, we took advantage of extensive data derived from 967 teachers and 32 principals in Korean vocational high schools that are now experiencing school reforms launched by the government. Our results revealed the importance of human aspects of school changes and reforms, in particular, driven by the external intervener. We first showed that a principal's initiative leadership is significantly related to the reduction of teacher resistance to change, in particular on the emotional and behavioural dimensions. Not surprisingly, teachers showed a higher level of resistance when their schools participate in the government-driven reform. Finally, teacher resistance depended upon characteristics of teachers as well as principals. These findings provide some useful policy implications for facilitating successful school reform efforts. Foremost, school reformers are advised to rethink the school change model design in a way of fully capturing human aspects in the reform process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-52
Number of pages19
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013 Mar


  • education policy
  • policy noncompliance
  • principal leadership
  • resistance to change
  • school reforms


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