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.


Fields of Research (FoR)

Specialist studies in education, Educational administration, management and leadership

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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 is currently looking for higher degree researchers (PhD, Honours) to work on two projects:


Project 1: The provision of Steiner and Montessori schools in Australia
This project address the role of socio-economic, educational, geographic and demographic drivers int he growth of alternate school providers (namely Steiner and Montessori) in an era where education policy and attention has been focused almost exclusively on improving outcomes. Working at the intersection of education, sociology, geography, demography, economics of education, all through relational theory, this work will be of enormous benefit to providers in planning the resourcing, supporting and promotion of schools. Studies within this project included, but not exclusively, the footprint of Steiner and Montessori schools through Australia (linked with AURIN, ABS, ACARA data sets); the social and professional expectations of key stakeholders; case studies of schools; and developing materials for schools, leaders and policy makers to optimise the delivery of alternate schooling. 

Project 2: Small schools - vital pillars on the education landscape
Small schools are a large part of the educational landscape. Using my path breaking relational approach, this project aims to investigate and enhance our understanding and practice of small schools and the role of school leaders in guiding and sustaining these schools. The implications of these findings are far-reaching nationally and internationally, with many applications to diverse modes of small school delivery (eg rural areas, special purpose, newly formed). The expected outcomes include guidelines to assess and support the functionality of small schools and how best to prepare school leaders for such schools. This project will provide significant benefits for government and systems looking to maximise the impact of small schools.


If interested in either of the above projects, and eligible, consider applying for a Scholarship. The next round closes on 09 July (the next round closes on 27 August 2021). Details for scholarships can be found: Key Dates | UNSW Research. 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., GIS analysis, 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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