Date of Submission



This thesis explores system capacity building, in particular, the purpose of system capacity building and how leaders, in the context of Leading for Learning Project, enabled whole of system capacity building with a focus on sustained engagement with moral purpose. It is argued, however, that the purpose and scope of system capacity building is often conceptually limited because it is understood within the current regulatory and performance focused education reform environment. This thesis, therefore, offers an alternative perspective by engaging with the theoretical underpinnings of complexity theory. As such, this thesis offers a conceptualisation of education systems as complex adaptive systems and system capacity building as a complex and emergent process. The thesis presents a radical reframing of education systems arguing that education systems are better understood as open, dynamic, and emergent systems, constituted of many interdependent relationships throughout the system.


School of Educational Leadership

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


368 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Education and Arts