Purpose Based on journal articles that focused on epistemological issues in the field (e.g. the field's nature, purposes, borders, knowledge base, uniqueness, etc.), this paper seeks to outline the intellectual discussions in the field of educational administration (EA) since the foundation of its major journals and suggest some lessons for the state of the field at the present time. Design/methodology/approach The review is based on all papers, scholarly, historical or empirical, that observed philosophical, epistemological and methodological issues and concerns in this field. The papers were analyzed and coded by their purposes, arguments, epistemological questions, criticism, findings and insights. Practical implications The major concluding epistemological message of this historical account is of “recycling,” i.e. the field is typically embedded with debates over similar ideas, assumptions, and insights about EA as a field of study throughout the last five decades. Therefore, it is a time for radical changes in the understanding of the field's intellectual missions and boundaries. Originality/value The historical overview is likely both to acquaint one with the historical scholarly streams, trends and debates in knowledge development of EA as a field of study, and help international field members understand and mould their professional identity.
- Educational administration