Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Marianne A. LARSEN


Haïti is unique in many respects; full of contradictions and paradoxes. While beautiful in many regards, it is fraught with issues: political, economic, societal, environmental, cultural, health-related, and educational. The latter stands out, however, as education affects the quality of the country’s human capital, determining the quality of life of its citizens. Therefore, having competent people in leadership positions is critical especially within schools where they can impact students’ learning, development, and achievement (SL/A).

Aiming to describe the state of educational leadership in Haïtian schools to inform policy-makers of the lived-experiences of educational leaders (ELs), the objectives of this study are to map out EL’s understanding of leadership and SL/A, their roles and responsibilities, and make sense of their strategies/supports, challenges/constraints. The argument I made is that, while ELs in Haïtian schools share similar ideas about SL/A, the ways in which they translate their understandings/interpretations into leadership practices vary depending on the various contexts or fields within which they work.

A theoretical Bourdieuian Educational Leadership (for) Practice Framework was created drawing on Bourdieu’s thinking tools (field, habitus, capital, strategy/practice) that work relationally within a broader critical policy framework.

This qualitative case-study used semi-structured interviews, non-participative observations, field notes, and document analysis as data collection instruments. Thirty ELs from 28 schools (religious, private, public) in Port-au-Prince took part in the study.

Findings revealed that ELs’ strategies/practices were based on their philosophy/values, and perceptions of leadership and SL/A. They identify various aspects: culture, administration, human resources, students, teachers, parents/communities, materials/infrastructure, and finances. Paradoxically, these same categories also represent challenges/constraints. Furthermore, policy contexts affected ELs’ leadership practices.

Embracing many leadership approaches, Haïtian educational leadership has developed a school leadership practice based on a leadership habitus and forms of capital, shared among ELs within the field, yet specific to each leader and school field.

This study permitted Haïtian school leaders to reflect on their practices and commitment to improving them. Most importantly, it gave them a voice, allowing them to transfer the breadth of knowledge accumulated over time; thus, adding to the scholarly literature about educational leadership in small, fragile, developing countries like Haïti.