The study of the culture and politics of educational leadership1 is currently emerging as a major field of social and educational inquiry. As a particular sector of this academic and research enterprise, the study of school leadership is attracting much more attention internationally. In a field previously dominated by studies of educational organization, administration and management and described by Greenfield and Ribbins (1993, pp.164-65) as 'unnecessarily bland and boring', the culture of school leadership, true to its nature, is reasserting itself. Texts such as John Smyth's (1989) Critical Perspectives on Educational Leadership point to the possibilities for the construction of new directions in leadership studies which are informed by historical, cultural, socio-political and critical analysis. Reviewing recent work on leadership, Beare, Caldwell and Millikan (1993) conclude that:
There is now a far richer body ofknowledge winning the confidence of scholars and practitioners alike. This has been achieved with more expansive, multidisciplinary study of organizations and leaders ... Leaders, aspiring leaders and others with an interest in leadership can now proceed with much greater confidence than was the case a decade before. (p.141)
What has caused this renaissance of interest and activity in the study of educational leadership? The answers to this question are as complex and as contradictory as the phenomenon ofleadership itself. The existence of various forms of crisis in many societies-legitimation crisis, moral crisis, economic crisis and social and political uncertainties-generate the conditions in which salvationist leadership is looked for.