Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wholeben, Brent E.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


School superintendents--Illinois--Political activity; School superintendents--Political aspects--Illinois


The purpose of this study was to examine the use of political power by selected superintendents in northern Illinois. The population consisted of 750 superintendents. The study sample consisted of seven recommended superintendents. Qualitative research methods were used in this study. The researcher employed a grounded theory method to derive a general, abstract theory of a process, action, or interaction grounded in the participants' views. This involved using multiple stages of data collection and the refinement and interrelationship of the defined categories of information. The initial or emerging theory was always tested against the data that was systematically collected through a constant comparative method. The qualitative interview method was used to explore the use of power in political situations to resolve conflict. The primary data collection technique used by this researcher was interviewing with an interview guide. This researcher conducted a content analysis of each participant's response. This involved an initial reading of the transcribed interviews. Color codes were assigned to each emerging category. The superintendent's responses were analyzed to determine patterns and themes. Based on the exploratory factor analysis of the first interview, 31 components or underlying factors were identified. These 31 factors accounted for 91.1% of the analysis of the variance. Based on the exploratory factor analysis of the second interview, 47 components or underlying factors were identified. These 47 factors accounted for 87.7% of the analysis of the variance. A binomial analysis was computed to determine which are the significant variables or themes that emerged from the coded responses, based on the frequency of the response. The variables were listed in descending sort order by frequency of response. Eighteen issues were found to be statistically significant in the first interview. In the second interview, 16 issues were found to be statistically significant. The data analysis of this study revealed the theme of the superintendent as politician and ethical leader. Included within the role of politician were three major patterns, which were negotiator, effective communicator, and information expert. Superintendents operate in political arenas, where power dominates many of their decisions. Superintendents must develop the skills necessary to operate successfully in this political arena. They must learn to balance the forces of power and politics, making decisions and resolving conflicts in the best interest of students and the school district. Politics and conflict are inevitable in the superintendency. Power has become the key resource in resolving conflict. The result of this study indicated recommendations that include the need for educational administration programs to provide instruction in the use of political strategies, negotiating skills, effective communication, and ethical training.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [160]-167).


x, 262 pages




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