In an era of decline and crisis, Catholic school leaders have been encouraged to find innovative ways to enhance a school’s operational vitality. Yet to this point, most research on educational change in Catholic schools has focused on the technical tasks school principals can take to “save” individual schools. In this article, we apply a complexity perspective to educational change leadership in Catholic education: leadership for adaptive change. Based on a new empirical analysis of the professional experiences of two Catholic school principals working at four different parish schools, we demonstrate in this article how leadership for adaptive change can operate in Catholic elementary parish schools and assess whether and how the attributes of complex adaptive schools were present in these four elementary schools. We also highlight the organizational and social conditions these two principals confronted that both undermined and promoted their ability to lead for adaptive change at these four schools. Ultimately, we suggest in this article the utility of using a “complex adaptive” approach to understanding change leadership in Catholic elementary schools as opposed to “technically rational” approaches commonly found in contemporary Catholic school leadership research.
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Miller, A. F., Noble, A., & McQuillan, P. (2022). Understanding Leadership for Adaptive Change in Catholic Schools: A Complexity Perspective. Journal of Catholic Education. https://doi.org/10.15365/joce.2501032022