Making the right choices: Ethical judgments among educational leaders

Ori Eyal*, Izhak Berkovich, Talya Schwartz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Purpose: Scholars have adopted a multiple ethical paradigms approach in an attempt to better understand the bases upon which everyday ethical dilemmas are resolved by educational leaders. The aim of this study is to examine the ethical considerations in ethical judgments of aspiring principals. Design/methodology/approach: To examine the ethical considerations involved in school leadership decision making, a specially designed ethical perspective instrument was developed that draws on the multiple ethical paradigms. This exploratory instrument was pre-tested for validity and reliability among school principals and students of educational administration. The research sample consisted of 52 participants in principal training programs in Israel. Findings: Negative correlations were found between choices reflecting values of fairness and those reflecting utilitarianism and care. In addition, negative correlations were found between choices reflecting values of community and those reflecting care, critique, and profession. Critique turned out to be the value most widely adopted by educational leaders to solve ethical dilemmas, followed by care and profession. Originality/value: The common notion in the literature is that the various ethics complement one another. There is, however, little empirical work on ethical judgments of educational practitioners. The importance of this exploratory research is twofold: first, it examines the extent to which multiple ethical considerations can be taken into account simultaneously; and second, it identifies the prevailing values that come into play most often.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)396-413
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Decision making
  • Educational administration
  • Ethics
  • Israel
  • Justice
  • Leadership
  • Professional ethics
  • Schools
  • Values


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