Book Reviews

Leading in a Culture of Change

by Michael G. Fullan

Reviewed by Perry Berkowitz
Assistant Professor of Educational Administration, College of Saint Rose, Albany, N.Y.


It's the culture, stupid!

For many school administrators, the extent to which the culture of a new school district is understood often marks the difference between career success and career disaster. Michael Fullan's new book, Leading in a Culture of Change, pulls no punches about that. This book offers a realistic perspective to those at the beginning of their leadership career and should be heartening to those who have earned their stripes.

The ambiguities of life in the maelstrom of change forces in the schools are more easily understood after considering Fullan's insights into organizational change and leadership.

What Fullan, dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, offers up in this small but powerful book is a primer on transformational leadership. He neither oversimplifies the mission of the school administrator nor makes the work appear impossible.

The first chapter alone is worth the price. The author advises that "change cannot be managed. It can be understood and perhaps led, but it cannot be controlled." More importantly, Fullan hypothesizes that effective leaders must develop five interdependent "core competencies."

Fullan then devotes an entire chapter to each competency and illustrates each concept with a solid and provocative collection of public education and private corporation cases. This makes the book a useful tool for an administrative team workshop or school board retreat. It would stimulate excellent discussion on mission and purpose and the climate in which a healthy organization can change for the better.

(Leading in a Culture of Change, by Michael G. Fullan, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif., 2001, 162 pp. plus index, $25 hardcover. Available from Amazon.com.)