Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Missing reciprocity: High school principals' leadership capacities and accountabilities
by Hoffman, Alexander Mishra, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2014, 386; 3621776
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to examine how a group of 12 public high school principals describe and understand the two elements of Elmore's (2006) principle of reciprocity in their practices (i.e., the accountabilities to which they are subject and the sources of development and support for their professional leadership capacities), using a grounded theory methodology. I used Seidman's (2006) three-interview structure for data collection, with each interview lasting from one to two and a half hours (totaling 60 hours). Through the eight major steps of my analysis (e.g., multiple coding passes, memoing, examination of matrices constructed from the data) of the interview transcripts and my field notes, I developed both descriptive and explanatory findings.

My descriptive findings included three typologies, which I inductively developed from what these principals shared with me. The first details 17 categories of leadership capacities. The second details 30 categories of accountors (i.e., to whom these principals feel accountable), grouped into 7 super-categories. The third details 45 categories of accountances (i.e., for what these principals feel accountable), grouped into 11 super-categories. I also discovered a critical 18th leadership capacity—a capacity for being held accountable.

My explanatory findings included four major learnings. First, interpersonal relationships are a key driver of accountability for these principals. Second, these principals are often active co-creators of their own accountabilities. Third, academics is not necessarily the focus of their most important accountabilities. Fourth, a shortage of capacity providers and the inappropriateness of expecting certain key accountors (e.g., students) to be capacity providers undermines the explanatory and predictive power of the principle of reciprocity for these principals.

These findings will help those interested in school leadership to better understand the complexities of the principalship. This will support current and aspiring principals' efforts to take a more active role in ensuring they are prepared for the principalship. It will help those involved in the preparation and support of principals to strategically target their efforts. Last, it will inform those who wish to use educational policy as a lever to improve our schools.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Drago-Severson, Ellie
Commitee: Bergman, Peter, Bowers, Alex, Laverty, Megan
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
Department: Organization and Leadership
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education Policy, Political science
Keywords: Accountor, High school principal accountability, Leadership capacity, Multiple accountabilities, Reciprocity principle, Typology of leadership
Publication Number: 3621776
ISBN: 978-1-303-93167-3
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