Principals’ moral agency and ethical decision-making: Towards transformational ethics


  • Sabre Lynn Cherkowski University of British Columbia
  • Keith D Walker University of Saskatchewan
  • Benjamin Kutsyuruba Queen's University



Moral agency, ethical decision-making, moral leadership, principals


This descriptive study of the ethical decision-making among a group of Canadian principals provides a rich portrait of how and why principals engage their moral agency through their decision-making processes. Using a leadership responsibility framework linking moral agency and transformational leadership, the researchers found that: modeling moral agency is important for encouraging others to engage their own moral agency in the best interests of all children; despite efforts to engage in collaborative decision-making, principals are often faced with the reality that they are the one to absorb the cost of the decisions; and principals tend to engage less often in transformational aspects of leadership as part of the decision-making process. More research is needed to understand how school leaders can engage more often and more substantially in transformational leadership among their teachers and staff and how they build moral agency capacity in their schools.

Author Biographies

Sabre Lynn Cherkowski, University of British Columbia

Sabre is an Assistant Frofessor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia's Kelowna campus. Her research interests include leadership and learning communities; flourishing in schools; teacher development and professional learning; moral agency, and ethical decision-making in education.

Keith D Walker, University of Saskatchewan

Professor Keith Walker enjoys joint appointments in the Department of Educational Administration and the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. His recognized areas of work include educational governance and policy making; leadership philosophies and practices, community and interpersonal relations, organizational development and capacity-building, and applied and professional ethics. He brings over thirty-five years of experience as a manager, teacher, minister, leader, scholar, and educational administrator in public and social sectors. His formal education has been in the disciplines of physical education, sports administration, theology, education, educational administration, and philosophy.

Benjamin Kutsyuruba, Queen's University

Benjamin Kutsyuruba is an Assistant Professor in Educational Policy and Leadership and an Associate Director of the Social Program Evaluation Group at the Faculty of Education, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His research interests include educational policymaking; educational leadership; mentorship and development of teachers;, trust, moral agency, and ethical decision-making in education; transnationalization of higher education; school safety and discipline; and, educational change, reform, and restructuring. His areas of teaching are educational leadership, school law and policy, educational policy studies, and policymaking in education.




How to Cite

Cherkowski, S. L., Walker, K. D., & Kutsyuruba, B. (2015). Principals’ moral agency and ethical decision-making: Towards transformational ethics. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 10(5).