Educational Leadership at Municipality Level

Defined Roles and Responsibilities in Legislation

Keywords: municipalities leadership role, educational leadership, educational governance, national legislation, policy in education


The purpose of this study is to explore the roles and responsibilities that national education legislation in Iceland imposes on municipalities in terms of leadership. A qualitative content analysis was applied to explore the relevant national legislation—that is, education acts, regulations, and curriculum guides—and identify themes by looking for specific words that are characteristic in leadership practices. The findings reveal that policy ends concerning educational leadership of municipalities are somewhat tacit in current national legislation. Yet, the roles and responsibilities that the state delegates to municipalities comprise leadership functions that are distributed in nature and, to a large extent, harmonize with desired leadership practices as emphasized in the literature. Legislation emphasizes comprehensive education, but also in-cludes signs of technocratic homogenization. In the discussion of our findings, we argue that the educational system is quite dependent on the political emphasis at each given time, making it difficult for both munic-ipalities and the state to facilitate a cohesive leadership emphasis. We suggest that closer attention to the local level, and a recognition of it as an important unit and agency for educational development, is of sig-nificant importance. These observations will be followed by a further investigation into the actual practice of leadership at the local level.


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Author Biographies

Sigríður Margrét Sigurðardóttir, Faculty of Education, University of Akureyri

Sigríður Margrét Sigurðardóttir ( is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Akureyri, Iceland, and a PhD student at the University of Iceland. She finished a teacher training in Denmark in 1998 and a M.Ed. from the University of Akureyri in 2010. She has experience as a compulsory school teacher and a principal. Her research includes school leadership and professional and school development.

Anna Kristín Sigurðardóttir, School of Education, University of Iceland

Anna Kristín Sigurðardóttir is an associate professor at the School of Education -, University of Iceland. She completed her B.Ed, and M.Ed. in education and special education from Iceland University of Education and Ph.D. from the University of Exeter, 2006. Her main research interests are in the area of educational leadership and school development, physical environment and inclusive education. E-mail:

Börkur Hansen, School of Education, University of Iceland

Börkur Hansen is a professor at the School of Education, University of Iceland. He finished a B.A.-degree in education and psychology from the University of Iceland in 1982, and a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in 1987. His major research interests are in the area of leadership, school management, school development and educational governance. E-mail:

How to Cite
Sigurðardóttir, S. M., Sigurðardóttir, A. K., & Hansen, B. (2018). Educational Leadership at Municipality Level. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE), 2(2-3), 56-71.