Little is known about principals' informal advice-seeking networks, although these relationships are likely to be particularly important for professional development. We therefore use highly detailed survey and administrative data to examine advice-seeking relationships within a large urban school district. We draw upon organizational learning and social network research to better conceptualize the causes and consequences of these social ties. This framework suggests some potential barriers to 'effective linking' that is, selecting advice targets who are more experienced, have more desirable leadership skills and qualities, and have school-specific knowledge for a given principal. Exploring advice-seeking ties within a district, using both descriptive and predictive models, we find a network structure in which principals seek advice in largely effective directions; however, personal qualities matter more than school-level characteristics, and ties remain less likely between socially and geographically distant principals net of other factors. Perceived competition for students does not significantly hinder effective linking, and may in fact act as a bridge for informal advice-seeking. Our study has implications for districts seeking to better capture and transfer important organizational leadership knowledge and skills.
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