Dr Meng Tian

Dr Meng Tian

School of Education
Associate Professor in Educational Leadership
School of Education Global Engagement and Internationalisation Lead

Contact details

Educational Leadership Academy
School of Education
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Meng Tian joined the Educational Leadership Academy, Department of Teacher Education in 2021. Her teaching and research interests lie in distributed leadership, social justice leadership, leaders’ and teachers’ professional development, and educational leadership policy-making. Currently, she teaches in the MA Educational Leadership DA Programme and MA Education Programme (Leadership pathway).

On top of her teaching and research work at the University of Birmingham, she also holds an appointment as the co-Convenor for the Network 26 Educational leadership at the European Educational Research Association (EERA).

LinkedIn profile

ORC profile


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2020
  • PhD in Educational Leadership, 2016 (Institute of Educational Leadership, University of Jyväskylä, Finland)
  • M.A. in Educational Leadership, 2011 (Institute of Educational Leadership, University of Jyväskylä, Finland)
  • B.A. in Educational Administration, 2007 (Faculty of Public Administration, East China Normal University, China)


Before joining the University of Birmingham, Dr Meng Tian held positions of Centre for Research in Education in Asia (CREA) Co-Director and Associate Professor in Educational Leadership and Management at the University of Bath, UK from 2019 to 2021.

From 2017 to 2019, she worked first as a Postdoctoral Researcher then as a Senior Researcher at the University of Teacher Education Zug, Switzerland. During those two years, she conducted several systematic reviews mapping the development of educational leadership, administration and management research.

Meng received a Bachelor’s degree (Educational Administration) from the East China Normal University, Shanghai, China. From 2007 to 2017, she completed both a Master’s and a PhD degree (Educational Leadership) at the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. Her doctoral thesis explored and compared distributed leadership practices in Finnish and Shanghai schools.


Current Teaching

  • Programme Leader MA Educational Leadership DA
  • Programme Leader MA Educational Leadership Non-DA and Pathways


  • Education Policy and Improving Schools
  • Leadership Enquiry
  • Understanding School Improvement
  • Leadership for School Improvement
  • Dissertation

External Examination Appointments

  • External examiner for the University of Northampton 2019-present


Recent publications


Tian, M 2023, Arts-based research methods for educational researchers. Qualitative and Visual Methodologies in Educational Research, 1st edn, Routledge. <https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003196105>

Woods, P, Roberts, A, Tian, M & Youngs, H (eds) 2023, Handbook on Leadership in Education. Elgar Handbooks in Education, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. <https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/gbp/handbook-on-leadership-in-education-9781800880412.html>

Xing, X & Tian, M (eds) 2022, Impact on Higher Education Transformation and Leadership Development: Overseas Leadership Development Programmes for Chinese University Leaders. East-West Crosscurrents in Higher Education, 1 edn, Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-0067-9


Tian, M 2021, 'Power bases and power tensions: a critical analysis of education inspection policies and practices in China', Leadership and Policy in Schools , vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 6-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/15700763.2020.1833940

Tian, M & Nutbrown, G 2021, 'Retheorising distributed leadership through epistemic injustice', Educational Management Administration & Leadership. https://doi.org/10.1177/17411432211022776

Tian, M & Virtanen, T 2021, 'Shanghai teachers’ perceptions on distributed leadership: Resource and agency', ECNU Review of Education, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 808-829. https://doi.org/10.1177/2096531120921051

Kameshwara, KK, Eryilmaz, N, Tian, M & Sandoval-Hernández, A 2020, 'Teachers’ Pedagogical Autonomy, Professional Development and Students’ Digital Skills: New Evidence from Italy', Autonomie Locali e Servizi Sociali. https://doi.org/10.1447/98729

Tian, M & Risku, M 2019, 'A distributed leadership perspective on the Finnish curriculum reform 2014', Journal of Curriculum Studies, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 229-244. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2018.1499806

Tian, M & Huber, S 2019, 'Mapping Educational Leadership, Administration and Management Research 2007–2016: Thematic Strands and the Changing Landscape', Journal of Educational Administration. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-12-2018-0234

Tian, M & Huber, SG 2019, 'Mapping the international knowledge base of educational leadership, administration and management: a topographical perspective', Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 4-23 . https://doi.org/10.1080/03057925.2019.1585757


Tian, M & Lan, X 2020, Policy-practice decoupling: Education inspection reform in China. in Neoliberalism and Education Systems in Conflict. Routledge.

Tian, M 2019, Exploring Emotion Management Strategies of Junior High School Teachers in Shanghai, China. in Emotion Management and Feelings in Teaching and Educational Leadership . Emerald.

Conference contribution

Risku, M & Tian, M 2019, Adult Education as a Tool for the Changing World. in International Scientific Conference Challenges for High Quality of Adult Education Conference Proceedings.

Tian, M 2018, A Conceptual and Methodological Framework of Arts-based Approach for Investigating Distributed Leadership. in European Conference on Educational Research (ECER).

Featured article

Tian, M 2019, 'Debunk the myth of heroic leadership and embrace the era of distributed leadership' LEAD. <https://www.lead-edu.ch/tian-meng-distributed-leadership/>

View all publications in research portal