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Strategic narrative in multi-academy trusts in England: principal drivers for expansion

Baxter, J. and Floyd, A. ORCID: (2019) Strategic narrative in multi-academy trusts in England: principal drivers for expansion. British Educational Research Journal, 45 (5). pp. 1050-1071. ISSN 1469-3518

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/berj.3550


Multi‐academy trusts (MATs) are now a common feature of the English educational landscape. Yet numerous high‐profile failures indicate that they present substantial challenges in terms of leadership and governance. One of the areas that most exercises school leaders and boards is the setting of strategic direction for the MAT. This includes elements such as its expansion. This article draws on 30 interviews with school leaders and trustees from 6 MATs and 10 interviews with national leaders of governance in looking to respond to the research question: What are the principal drivers for strategic expansion in MATs? The article begins by contextualising the research in light of recent policy, then moves to consider why theory on strategy as narrative was chosen in preference to other strategic approaches, and how it was employed to analyse data. The article concludes that within this sample there are a number of drivers for MAT expansion and that these fall under six principal categories: opportunities, values, pressures, feelings, risks and resources. It also concludes that resources and business viability play a substantial part in decisions to expand, and that strategy appears to be an iterative learning process. As such, it contributes to theory on the governance of multi‐level organisations and to practice in terms of the Department for Education's focus on MAT growth.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:84105


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