Dr Scott Eacott

Director, Higher Research Degrees
School of Education


+61 2 9385 0704
Room 103, Goodsell Building
Kensington Campus
Fields: Specialist Studies in Education, Educational Administration, Management and Leadership, Social Theory
Tags: Management and Leadership of Schools/Institutions

Dr Scott Eacott is a relational theorist and Director of Higher Degree Research in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Saskatchewan. He has previously held positions at the University of Newcastle, Australian Catholic University and the New South Wales Department of Education. His relational research program has provided new insights for understanding educational leadership, management and administration.

Scott Eacott's work is a welcome departure from rational approaches that oversimplify the practice and theorizing of leadership in and for schools. Howard Youngs (AUT University)

His relational research program is arguably the most ambitious agenda in educational administration and leadership coming out of Australia since Colin Evers and Gabriele Lakomski's naturalistic coherentism and Richard Bates' Critical Theory of educational adminstration. As a research agenda it engages with: the relations of the researcher and researched, the uncritical adoption of everyday language in scholarship, the role of spatio-temporal conditions in shaping understanding, the limitations of analytical dualisms, and seeks to productively theorize - not just critique. In doing so, it offers the potential to bring about new ways of understanding more so than simply mapping the intellectual terrain with novel ideas and vocabularies. Further information can be found here.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (NSW), former convenor of the Educational Leadership Special Interest Group of the Australian Association for Research in Education, and a member of the National Advisory Board for the Australian Applied Management Colloquium. Dr Eacott is a Founding Co-Editor of the Educational Leadership Theory book series (Springer, with Dr Richard Niesche), and on the Editorial Board of many leading international journals in relational sociology, social theory, and educational administration and leadership.   

Come and work with me

Dr Eacott is constantly seeking outstanding researchers to undertake doctoral or honours projects to continue the relational research program. In addition, he welcomes proposals from highly motivated and talented researchers who believe they have the potential to make significant contribution to the relational research program as post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, visiting sabbatical scholars and collaborators. For more information see here.

If you are a post graduate student and can secure funding at UNSW Sydney, or are looking to apply for PhD funding, then there is a great opportunity to be at the cutting edge of relational theorizing. We have secured project funding for a four year study of regional secondary school consolidation in NSW, Australia and will be generating a large data set. If interested and eligible, contact Dr Eacott: s.eacott@unsw.edu.au

Group members do well

Current and past students working with Dr Eacott have achieved success. Gladys Asuga secured a doctoral scholarship following her master's work and Kimbalee Hodges was awarded 1st class Honours, a Faculty Medal, and secured an Australian Postgraduate Award to conduct doctoral research. In addition, in collaboration with Gladys Asuga, we won the 2012 African Management Research Award sponsored by Emerald Publishing and Rachel Gallagher was awarded the 2014-2015 New South Wales Institute for Educational Research Undergraduate Research Award. Most importantly, as an explicit part of building research team capacity, Dr Eacott has successfully published with Gladys Asuga (Asuga & Eacott, 2012; Eacott & Asuga, 2014; Asuga, Eacott, & Scveak, 2015, 2016); Kimbalee Hodges (Eacott & Hodges, 2014); Judith Norris (Eacott & Norris, 2014); and co-presented at conferences with Gladys Asuga, Kimbalee Hodges, and Jan Morrison.

In summary, Dr Eacott's supervisory approach is about rigorous and robust scholarship and a structured apprenticeship into the academy. For more information see here.


Although Dr 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 chapter two (PDF) 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. (2016). Methodological notes on the study of educational leadership relationally (PDF). Journal of Educational Administration and Foundations, 25(2), 3-14.

The first book length treatment of the relational approach is Dr Eacott's Educational leadership relationally (2015, Sense). The most comprehensive overview 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? Dr Eacott has developed an indicative guideline for structuring your writing. See here (PDF).



One of Dr 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 Dr 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 for innovative educational leadership course and program designs.

Using a variety of approaches in his teaching, Dr Eacott's classes are distinctive for their privileging of rigorous and robust discussion and debate of key issues. Unlike traditional lecture or tutorial models, Dr Eacott explcitly 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.

Course taught include:

  • Organizational theory
  • Effective schools
  • Social and political contexts of education

Honours and prizes

  • 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

Affiliations and membership


  • 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

Related links

Further details about Dr Eacott and his work can be found at http://scotteacott.com