A comparison of the profiles and career pathways of public school superintendents and corporate chief executive officers

Terri K Jordan, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Overview. The purpose of this descriptive study was to compare the personal characteristics and career pathways of the superintendents of the fifty largest public school districts in the United States and the chief executive officers (CEO's) of the top fifty Fortune 500 companies in the United States. The research questions that guided this study were: (1) What are the similarities and dissimilarities in the profiles of public school superintendents and CEO's of Fortune 500 companies? and, (2) What are the similarities and dissimilarities in the career pathways of public school superintendents and CEO's of Fortune 500 companies? Demographic information was researched regarding gender, age, ethnicity, educational background, and compensation; and professional preparation information was researched regarding traditional career pathways and succession of the identified executives.^ The target populations of this study were the 50 largest school districts and the 50 largest Fortune 500 corporations in the United States. The 50 largest school districts ranged in size from 986,967 students to 68,783 students. The 2007 Fortune 500 included the largest United States incorporated companies who filed financial statements with a government agency. The largest company of the Fortune 500 list was WalMart with revenues (in millions) of $351,139. The smallest of the top 50 companies was Freddie Mac with revenues (in millions) of $44,002. ^ The web sites for each of the 50 largest school districts and the 50 largest corporations were examined to search for the names and demographic information of the superintendents and CEO's. In some cases, additional information was retrieved through various media publications posted on the internet when the resumes/curriculum vitaes on the school district web sites or company web sites were incomplete. Additionally, a request under the federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552 was made to each of the school districts in order to retrieve the required information.^ Of the 50 districts, the demographic and career pathway information was either entirely or partially available for all but nine of the superintendents. Therefore, the total number of superintendent subjects reviewed was 41. Of the 50 Fortune 500 companies, the demographic and career pathway information was either entirely or partially available for all 50 of the CEO's.^ Conclusions: Profiles of Superintendents and CEO's. Based on the demographic data obtained by the researcher, the typical public school superintendent is a White/non-Hispanic male, age 55 or over, holds a doctoral degree, and earns a base salary of $190,000 or more. Fortune 500 CEO's, typically, are White/non-Hispanic males, age 55 or over, hold a bachelor's or master's degree, and earn a base salary of a $1,000,000 or more. ^ School district superintendents typically attended a public institution for their bachelor's degree and majored in education, science, or liberal arts; and typically attended a public institution for their highest earned degree and majored in education. Corporate CEO's typically attended a private institution for their bachelor's degree and majored in liberal arts, science, or business; and typically attended a private institution for their highest earned degree and majored in business or law.^ The similarities between superintendents and corporate CEO's included gender, ethnicity, age. The dissimilarities between superintendents and corporate CEO's included undergraduate major, major for the highest earned degree, types of institutions attended, and base salary.^ Conclusions: Career Pathways. The typical career pathway to the superintendency was teacher/high school principal/central office. The typical career pathways to the CEO position were vice-president/chief financial officer or chief operating officer/president.^ Prior to their appointment, the typical superintendent under study was an external applicant, whereas the subject CEO's were internal applicants. ^ The dissimilarities between superintendents and corporate CEO's included career pathways and applicant status (internal v external).^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Management|Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Jordan, Terri K, "A comparison of the profiles and career pathways of public school superintendents and corporate chief executive officers" (2008). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3341647.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI3341647

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