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The headmaster ritual: the importance of management for school outcomes


  • Böhlmark, Anders

    () (Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI))

  • Grönqvist, Erik

    (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy)

  • Vlachos, Jonas

    () (Department of Economics, Stockholm University)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Böhlmark, Anders & Grönqvist, Erik & Vlachos, Jonas, 2012. "The headmaster ritual: the importance of management for school outcomes," Working Paper Series 2012:16, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2012_016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicholas Bloom & Carol Propper & Stephan Seiler & John Van Reenen, 2015. "The Impact of Competition on Management Quality: Evidence from Public Hospitals," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 457-489.
    2. Andersson, Christian & Waldenström, Nina, 2007. "Teacher certification and student achievement in Swedish compulsory schools," Working Paper Series 2007:6, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    3. Nicholas Bloom & Christos Genakos & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2011. "Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp1109, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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    Cited by:

    1. Krzysztof Karbownik, 2016. "The Effects of Student Composition on Teacher Turnover: Evidence from an Admission Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 6133, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    3. Mike Helal & Michael Coelli, 2016. "How Principals Affect Schools," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n18, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    4. Adriana Di Liberto & Fabiano Schivardi & Giovanni Sulis, 2015. "Managerial practices and student performance," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(84), pages 683-728.
    5. Karbownik, Krzysztof, 2014. "Job mobility among high-skilled and low-skilled teachers," Working Paper Series 2014:14, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    6. Andreas Bergh, 2014. "Sweden and the Revival of the Capitalist Welfare State," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15717.

    More about this item


    Principals; School Management;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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