Leadership succession In the United States in particular, the study of leadership succession
has been a major focus of activity among organizational researchers. Gouldner's (1954) study of a gypsum mine and Guest's (1962) investigation of an automobile plant are the established classics in the field. Occasions of leadership succession, it is argued, provide a natural laboratory for the study of the organization and in particular the effects and problems of leadership. As 'grand social dramas' leadership successions have a revelatory quality which exposes the sinews of structure and power in the organization in a unique way. Some writers, however, have argued that focus on these particular 'grand social dramas' has led to an overemphasis on the leader and 'great man' conceptions of leadership (Dwyer, 1984). While I am interested in leadership here, the investigation of succession is also an opportunity to explore opposition and conflict. The focus on the headteacher serves as a vehicle to raise other issues. As Miskel and Owens point out, 'it is during the pre-and post-arrival phases that old resource allocation decisions are argued again, that suppressed ideological divisions over goals and performance
are raised for reevaluation, and that job responsibilities are redefined' (1983, p. 25). Extracts from an unpublished case study will serve our purpose here.