Within the field of education management studies, recent reforms promoting devolution and choice are often seen to provide exciting new opportunities. It is claimed that the 'new' education management, with its emphasis on site-based decision-making and consumer accountability, will enable headteachers and principals to 'take control' of their schools and make them more productive environments in which to work and study. However, our review of research findings from five different countries that are putting in place devolution and choice policies suggests that these new opportunities are more illusory than real. Positioned between the competing demands of the state and the market, school managers are becoming increasingly isolated from colleagues and classrooms - leading to a growing divergence between the managers and the managed. The paper considers the implication of recent developments for managers in general and for women managers in particular and concludes by discussing the relationship between the personalisation of responsibility and the legitimation of crises within the state and public education.
Keywords market  site‐based management  state  education management  choice  devolution
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DOI 10.1111/1467-8527.00057
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