Irish Principals’ Emotional Competencies and Affectively-Attuned Change-Management

Redmond, Michael (2014). Irish Principals’ Emotional Competencies and Affectively-Attuned Change-Management. EdD thesis The Open University.



The purpose of this study is to characterise the emotional competencies of principals in the Irish voluntary secondary school sector, determining what level of association these have with collaboratively-mediated change management and identifying professional development potential arising from the findings.

Emotions act as heuristics-of-value which influence school leaders’ behaviour and an improved qualitative understanding of their emotional competencies can support an enhancement of principals’ action, complementing cognitive/rational approaches in their management of collaboratively-mediated change.

A pragmatic methodological perspective is adopted and this is supported by a mixed methods approach. Overall coherence is achieved by undertaking data analysis and conceptual development within a grounded theory framework.

The initial study, a focus group, provided rich data from which themed extracts were used to frame a large-scale survey questionnaire distributed electronically to the entire cohort of 380 secondary school principals in Ireland. Findings from this survey and from three subsequent semi-structured interviews were analysed and supported the development of a conceptualisation called ‘affectively-attuned change-management’. This theory argues that in seeking to bridge the gap between having a vision for improvement and the achievement of transformational change, a school leader will require to incorporate attunement to emotion, both intrapersonal and interpersonal, in the establishment of a moral and ethical basis for change (‘Foundations’); the deployment of one’s affective acumen and capacity to sustain (‘Agency’); the activation of a climate of authentic collegiality (‘Connection’) and, ultimately, the mobilisation of energy and empowerment for collaboratively-mediated change (‘Synergy’).

This conceptualisation thus presents a synthesis of four overarching processes, each of which is examined in detail, grounded in the numerical and narrative data and linked to the literature.

The conceptualisation is then examined for applicability and an actionable heuristic developed, integrating both cognitive and affective considerations into the school leader’s transformational efforts.

Implications of the findings for professional development are then explored.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions