Principals’ Priorities and Values – Twenty-five Years of Compulsory School Principalship in Iceland

  • Friðgeir Börkur Hansen University of Iceland
  • Steinunn Helga Lárusdóttir University of Iceland


This paper reports on a study of compulsory school principals conducted in 2017. It focuses on principals’ values, both ethical and management related, and their actual and desirable prioritization of important tasks. Data was gathered with a questionnaire which was sent to all Icelandic school principals, 162 individuals in total. The response rate was 69%. The findings show that 94% of the principals say they highly emphasize the ethical values care, equality, democracy, autonomy, tolerance and justice. These ethical values, however, do not seem to impact task prioritization. This indicates that the principals may not have a clear picture of their own value base in the way that scholars have advocated for. The emphasis the principals place on management related values is more variable. It is therefore uncertain to what extent values guide them in their everyday practice.

Author Biographies

Friðgeir Börkur Hansen, University of Iceland


Steinunn Helga Lárusdóttir, University of Iceland

Professor emirita

school principals, leadership, values, tasks