Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Hollingworth, Liz

First Committee Member

Yarbrough, Donald

Second Committee Member

Locke, Leslie

Third Committee Member

Grooms, Ain

Fourth Committee Member

Barnhardt, Cassie

Fifth Committee Member

Bjork, Christopher


Background: Indonesian schools are in the midst of implementing a new reform initiative, the 2013 Curriculum, mandated by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. The new curriculum requires a drastic change in instructional practices from the traditionally teacher-centered to student-centered instruction. As school leaders, principals play an important role in the implementation and enactment of the 2013 Curriculum in schools. This research explores the leadership practices of Indonesian school principals in facilitating the implementation of new reform policies and initiatives.

Purpose: The study served two purposes. The first was to examine Indonesian public school principals’ enactment of agency within the boundaries set by the social systems around them as they implemented the 2013 Curriculum. The second purpose was to develop a framework that can be used as a lens to further study school leadership practices in the context of Indonesia. Two research questions guided this study: (1) What leadership practices are shaped by which social systems and values? and (2) How does principal agency manifest when implementing the 2013 Curriculum? Responses to the research questions were used to develop the framework.

Data Collection and Analysis: A case study for theory development approach to qualitative research was used. The study took place in the northern area of a small island located in east Indonesia. The primary source of data came from multiple interviews with three public elementary school principals whose schools served as pilot schools for the 2013 Curriculum. In addition to principal interviews, interview with teachers, documents, and observation field notes served as data sources. The data collected were analyzed and manually coded following the data analysis procedures of grounded theory. In the first coding cycle, I coded the data by assigning descriptive and InVivo codes summarizing topics. The second coding cycle involved assigning concepts and categories based on the open codes from the first cycle with a focus on the principals’ actions in facilitating the implementation process. In the third cycle, I compared the concepts and categories to respond to the research questions and examined the relationships between the concepts and categories to develop the framework from the ground up.

Findings: The data analyzed indicated there are three major systems shaped the principals’ leadership practices during the implementation of the 2013 Curriculum: the educational system, the local culture and community, and the school system. In addition to the three systems, the principals’ personal and professional values served to guide the way they led their schools in alignment with the goals of the 2013 Curriculum. The systems and values provided them with rules and resources on which the principals drew in deciding specific actions to perform in order to meet the written and unwritten expectations of their stakeholders. The principals’ enactment of agency was primarily in the form of complying with government orders and balancing expectations from multiple systems, which, then, led to the discovery of three leadership categories in the implementation process: (1) compliance, (2) negotiation, and (3) independence. Compliance refers to those practices the principals perform to satisfy government expectations. Negotiation refers to practices the principals perform in their efforts to juggle expectations and pressures coming from multiple systems. Independence refers to practices the principals perform as they respond to government policies and regulations, as well as community expectations, in a way that is aligned with their personal and professional values.

Public Abstract

Indonesian schools are currently in the process of transitioning to a new curriculum, 2013 Curriculum. The curriculum was developed and published by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC). As government employees, Indonesian public school principals’ leadership actions are governed by regulations and guidelines set by the MoEC. This study investigated how those regulations and guidelines affected the principals’ approach to facilitate the implementation process in their schools.

Three public elementary school principals in eastern Indonesia whose schools served as pilot schools for the 2013 Curriculum were invited to participate in the study. The principals were interviewed three times between May 2015 and July 2016. In addition to principal interviews, other data sources included teacher interviews, documents, and observation field notes.

Analyses of the data suggested that the principals were primarily concerned with complying with government regulations and guidelines and ensuring teacher compliance in implementation. In addition to government-level influence, the study also found that local culture and community’s expectations and resources available in their schools guided the leadership practices of the principals. Furthermore, the principals’ personal and professional values provided the basis for the leadership practices that did not come out of the need to meet government’s or community’s expectations.

Based on the findings, this study recommends ways for the MoEC and other government organizations to better support principals. The recommendations include reducing principals’ administrative duties, providing appropriate trainings, and including principals in the policy development and implementation processes.


case study, education, Indonesia, policy implementation, school leadership, theory of structuration


xvi, 183 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 163-173).


Copyright © 2017 Asih Asikin-Garmager