Associate Professor Scott Eacott

My Expertise

A/Prof Eacott has expertise in educational leadership, particularly school leadership. Current projects include small town schools, school leadership and context, and school autonomy and social justice.


Field of Research (FoR)

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Although A/Prof Eacott has published a number of papers on educational leadership theory and leadership preparation and development, his main research effort has concerned the systematic development of a relational research program. This relatively new theoretical approach for organizational theory in education offers a methodological framework for the study of the social world. It provides a means to frame scholarly inquiry and structure an...view more

Although A/Prof Eacott has published a number of papers on educational leadership theory and leadership preparation and development, his main research effort has concerned the systematic development of a relational research program. This relatively new theoretical approach for organizational theory in education offers a methodological framework for the study of the social world. It provides a means to frame scholarly inquiry and structure an argument in a thesis, paper, book, or conference paper. Built on a very Bourdieusian craft of scholarship, but without any great loyalty or reverence, the relational approach comprises five relational extensions:

  • The centrality of 'organizing' in the social world creates an ontological complicity in researchers (and others) that makes it difficult to epistemologically break from ordinary language;
  • Rigorous (social) scientific inquiry calls into question the very foundations of popular labels such as 'the organization', 'leadership', 'management', and 'administration';
  • Contemporary spatio-temporal conditions cannot be separated from the ongoing, and inexhaustible, recasting of organizing activity;
  • Foregrounding social relations enables the overcoming of the contemporary, and arguably enduring, analytical dualism of individualism/holism, universal/particular, and structure/agency; and
  • In doing so, there is a productive space - rather than merely critical - space to theorize organizing.

New to the relational research program? An introductory overview can be found in Starting points for a relational approach to organisational theory (Eacott, 2019) and chapter two of the new edited collection by Gabriele Lakomski, Scott Eacott, and Colin Evers (2017) Questioning leadership: new directions for educational organizations (London: Routledge). Additionally, this paper provides a useful overview: Eacott, S. (2019). The relational approach and social epistemology in educational leadership. Research in Educational Administration and Leadership, 4(1), 166-193.

The most comprehensive overview of the relational approach appears in Beyond leadership: a relational approach to organizational theory in education (2018, Springer). Check out my publications for many other papers and chapters using the relational approach. Ongoing work is currently being articulated in conference papers and empirical projects and will be published shortly.

Using the relational approach in your dissertation, thesis, or a paper? A/Prof Eacott has developed an indicative guideline for structuring your writing. See here.

My Qualifications


My Awards

  • 2015 Hedley Beare Award - Most Outstanding Educational Leadership Writing (Australian Council for Educational Leaders)
  • 2014 Emerald Literati Outstanding Paper of the Year (2013)
    International Journal of Educational Management
  • 2013 Book Editor of the Year, Untested Ideas Center (Niagara Falls, NY)
  • 2012 Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (NSW)
  • 2012 Emerald / ALCS African Management Research Award
    2012 Highly Commended, Emerald Literati Outstanding Papers of the Year (2011)
    International Journal of Educational Management
  • 2011-2012 Emerging Research Leaders Programme
    (Sponsored by Deputy Vice Chancellor – Research)
  • 2010 Australian Leadership Award – Fellowship (AusAID)
  • 2009 Highly Commended, Emerald / EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award, Educational Leadership and Strategy (Sponsor Journal of Educational Administration)
  • 2009 Runner-up, 7th Annual Emerging Scholar in Educational Leadership Award
    (Sponsored by International Journal of Leadership in Education)
  • 2007-08 The University of Newcastle Teaching and Learning Fellowship

My Research Supervision

Areas of supervision

A/Prof Eacott is constantly seeking outstanding researchers to undertake doctoral (PhD, EdD), research masters and/or honours projects that advance his relational theorizing through rigorous and robust social science. Additionally, he welcomes proposals from highly motivated and talented researchers who believe they have the potential to contribute to make a significant contribution to advancing scholarship through post-docs, research assistants, visiting scholars, and collaborations. If you are interested in working with A/Prof Eacott and the relational approach, see here and then please send an email to discuss possibilities.

A/Prof Eacott currently has TWO PhD SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE

Two enthusiastic PhD students are required to work on a project investigating the timely question of ‘Are schools the heart of small town communities?’.
The successful candidates will be enrolled in a PhD program in the School of Education, UNSW Sydney and will be part of a larger research program led by A/Prof Scott Eacott. This research program also involves collaborators at other Australian and international universities. Candidates will work closely with this diverse and highly skilled group of international researchers in developing the projects.

Position 1: Profiling small towns – Australia
There are 2.3 million people living in approximately 1,700 small towns throughout Australia. Deeply rooted in the nation’s character and mythology, these towns are a cultural rather than just geographic category. This PhD project will integrate Australian Bureau of Statistics (Urban Centres and Localities community profiles) and MySchool data to build a comprehensive database of small towns throughout Australia. This first of its kind database will provide in-depth understanding of the relationship between social and education measures as a catalyst for improving policy decisions and interventions.

Position 2: Are schools the heart of small towns?
Schools are often described as the heart of small town communities. This PhD project will explicitly put this idea to the test. Undertaking fieldwork in small towns with and without schools, this work will investigate the role of schools in community identity. Drawing on the emerging field of relational theorising, this project will transform the way we understand schools and small towns in ways not previously possible. In doing so, it will address significant knowledge gaps while generating explanatory insights on the history and culture of small towns.

Both positions attract an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship ($28,092 AUD p.a. – 2020 rate). Applications are due by 18 September 2020. The ideal candidate will have: i) A 1st class Honours degree, or equivalent, in education, sociology, history, community development, public administration, politics, public policy, cultural studies or related fields; ii) Previous experience with either empirical research (e.g., data mining of ABS and/or education statistics, qualitative skills in interviews or focus groups) and/or the application of social critical theoretical frameworks to social problems. Particular preference would be given to candidates with a working knowledge of (or willingness to work with) Eacott’s relational approach; iii) Excellent time, data management, and interpersonal skills; and iv) Evidence of well-developed verbal and written communication skills. If you have any queries about the positions, please contact A/Prof Scott Eacott.

Currently supervising

Current supervised topics include:

- Regional secondary school reform;

- School leadership in Australia;

- Teacher leadership in China; and

- School reform.

My Engagement


  • Educational Management, Administration & Leadership (2017-)
  • Educational Leadership Theory book series (Springer, Founding Co-Editor, 2017-)
  • Relational Sociology book series (Palgrave, 2015-)
  • Journal of Applied Social Theory (2015-)
  • Research in Educational Administration and Leadership (Section, Australia/Pacific Editor, 2015-)
  • International Journal of Educational Management (2013-)
  • Leading & Managing (2013-)
  • Journal of Educational Administration and History (2013-, including Book Review Editor 2013-2017)
  • International Journal of Leadership in Education (2013-)
  • Leadership and Policy Quarterly (2012-)
  • Perspectives in Educational Leadership (2011-2014)
  • Journal of Educational Administration and Policy Studies (2009-2015) 


  • American Educational Research Association 2010-
  • British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society 2010-2015
  • Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management 2010-2015
  • Australian Association for Educational Research 2008-
  • Australian Council for Educational Leaders 2003-2016

My Teaching

One of A/Prof Eacott's key areas of contribution and research interest is school leadership preparation and development. He has published in the area, has ongoing projects in Australia and overseas (with collaborators), successfully attracted funding through the Emerald African Management Research Award programme and used his scholarly approach to tertiary teaching to secure an AusAID funded project to bring 20 Filipino leaders to Australia for an intensive educational leadership programme. In 2007-2008 A/Prof Eacott was awarded an inaugural Teaching and Learning Fellowship at the University of Newcastle (Australia) to develop an entirely online educational leadership course. He has subsequently held multiple competitive teaching and learning grants while at ACU and UNSW for innovative educational leadership course and program designs.

Using a variety of approaches in his teaching, A/Prof Eacott's classes are distinctive for their privileging of rigorous and robust discussion and debate of key issues. Unlike traditional lecture or tutorial models, A/Prof Eacott explicitly engages with participants by challenging their ways of thinking and seeking to develop a commitment to public intellectualism. Following Michael Oakeshott, his central belief is that to be educated is to join the conversation of the world.

Courses taught in the Master of Educational Leadership include:

  • Organizational theory; and
  • Instructional leadership

He also offers a term-long course on his relational approach entitled:

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G15 Morven Brown Building


+61 2 9385 0704