The superintendent and leadership: A collective case study

Sue Ann Shook, University of Texas at El Paso


Leadership is often suggested as the first ingredient necessary to change the course of our schools, which has radically altered the way we view the role of the superintendent. This qualitative study addresses the unique role of the superintendent of schools in public education and explores the leadership styles of three individuals who served as the chief executive officer of a district located in a metropolitan area on the Texas-Mexico border. The purpose of the work is to provide information that will assist those aspiring to the superintendency and those who are practicing chief executive officers to improve their practices. ^ Leadership has been studied since the Golden Age of Greece, yet no clear definition of the phenomenon exists. This study was designed to capture the essence of the phenomena of leadership through the experiences of practitioners who served in a single district between the years of 1975 and 1997. The study was designed to capture the different perspectives of the participants, which included the superintendents, central office administrators, and school board members, as it relates to leadership in the role of the superintendent. The methodology was grounded in phenomenology, using case studies and the interview as the method of collecting data. ^ The review of relevant discourses includes the historical development of the role of the superintendent in light of the educational reform movement, and a chronology of the last 100 years of research on leadership styles. The history of the research includes the development of the following leadership theories: trait, behavior, situational, charismatic, and transformational. There is also a review of the competency, principle-centered, and quality paradigms. ^ Coding and data reduction led to narratives that highlight the experiences of the participants and reveal the leadership styles. The themes that emerged from the data include preparation programs and prior experiences of the superintendents, development of an organizational vision, knowledge and skills needed in the leadership role, and the challenges of the superintendent-board relations. Findings also include the superintendent's role in allocation of resources, the effects of change, brought about by growth in this collective case study, and different styles of decision-making strategies. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Shook, Sue Ann, "The superintendent and leadership: A collective case study" (2000). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI9995869.