Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Existence of Peterson and Deal's Paradox of Change Theory in Elementary School Leaders' Consideration of Decisions to Change Rituals
by Washington, Marcus J., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2012, 202; 3490752
Abstract (Summary)

In their book, Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership (1999), Peterson and Deal postulated that “in the future, school leaders will face five central paradoxes in their work” (p. 138). One of their proposed paradoxes was the paradox of change, the idea that a school leader will have to decide between keeping a part of his or her school the same in hopes of perpetuating a thriving aspect of the school or changing it for the sake of improvement. This qualitative dissertation utilized data obtained from field observations and interviews to examine the existence of the paradox of change theory when members of a Georgia public elementary school leadership team decided whether or not changes in rituals should be implemented during the 2010–2011 school year.

For this study, a change in ritual represented a perceived alteration in the timing, duration, planning, or execution of an occurrence, routine, or event that occurred within the school at a consistent or mutually agreed upon day, date, or time. Changes in both rituals of tradition and rituals of management were examined. During a four-month period, I observed 11 meetings of and conducted semistructured, one-on-one interviews with the 19 purposefully selected participants. The participants were either members of the school leadership team at the research site or faculty members who were identified by a leadership team member as having a role in a recent consideration of a change in a school ritual. During each interview, the participants were asked questions that encouraged them to describe their experiences with the decisions to change or not change a ritual. Data collected through the observations and interviews were coded and analyzed. As a result of the emergence and interpretation of six major findings, I offered the conclusion that Peterson and Deal's paradox of change theory existed to widely varying extents in all aspects of the decisions that members of the school's leadership team made about changing a ritual.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sherrill, Kelly A.
Commitee: Emerson, Joseph, Swayze, Susan
School: The George Washington University
Department: Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Educational leadership, School administration
Keywords: Paradox of change theory, Rituals of management, School improvement
Publication Number: 3490752
ISBN: 9781267119100
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