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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Passing through the Halls: Relationships and Organizational Structures in the Work of a School Granted Autonomy
by Szczesny, Thomas Joseph, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2017, 211; 10286349
Abstract (Summary)

Though much is known about the school environments that increase students’ access to opportunity, the process for developing conditions that presage such outcomes remains a pertinent area of study. The reality that widespread school performance has yet to realize the promise of true educational equity, particularly in urban settings, attests to the challenge. In the search for solutions, one response across decades has been to grant schools autonomy, a trend that continues today. The goal of this research study is to understand the process by which a school in such a context builds its capacity to improve student outcomes. With capacity seen as a function of available information, the relationships and organizational structures are given particular attention knowing that such mechanisms serve as conduits for information exchange in organizations. It is seen the presence of strong relationships and strong organizational structures are necessary but not sufficient for productive information exchange. In order to realize their full utility, leadership must cultivate relational trust and manage expectations of their duties as leader. Moreover, organizational activity must align to the school’s desired direction and capitalize upon available capabilities. Finally, the importance of clear communication about autonomy’s multiple dimensions related to schools is seen. The results of this case study suggest that relationships and organizational structures can illuminate the complex work of serving students in the context of a school granted autonomy while calling for greater nuance in the idea’s conceptualization as a means for school improvement.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Quinn, Rand
Commitee: Lytle, James, Reisman, Abby
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education Policy, Educational administration
Keywords: Autonomy, Decentralization, Education reform, Leadership, Professional learning, Trust
Publication Number: 10286349
ISBN: 978-0-355-21878-7
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