Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Roberts, Patrick A.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Behaviorism (Psychology); Educational leadership; Management; School management and organization


Over the past twenty years, shootings and other violent incidents, acts of terrorism such as the attacks of September 11, 2001, and natural disaster events such as hurricanes or floods have occurred with increasing frequency. Situations like these pose significant challenges for school administrators when a normally-peaceful educational environment is quickly transformed by significant acts of aggression from within, or by external threats that impact the educational domain with little or no advance warning. Contingency-based, situational leadership has proven to be effective when used in both educational and non-educational settings during normal, non-emergency periods. The purpose of this study is to determine if a contingency-based leadership style can also be effective during school-related emergency situations and crisis events. The leadership methods and actions of school presidents and school district superintendents were studied in the context of leading their school(s) or school district before, during, and after emergencies or times of crisis. Information concerning the leadership style preferences and perceived valuation of identified leadership components was obtained through written surveys, and oral interviews during which school administrators described their leadership philosophy and actions during a major emergency or crisis event. The results obtained show that each chief administrator made extensive use of contingency-based, situational leadership principles while working with subordinates to devise and implement a coordinated emergency or crisis event response. The primary leadership concept that allowed administrators to carry out a successful crisis event response was delegation of authority. Effective delegation of authority was supported by five major themes: Communication, Competence, Credibility, Decision-Making, and Planning. These themes allowed subordinates to utilize and implement guidance contained within comprehensive written crisis response documents; coordinating efficiently with school and school district staff, students, outside response agencies, and each other; both during and after the crisis event.


Committee members: Hawk, Bradley; Pluim, Carolyn; Tonks, Stephen.||Advisor: Roberts, Patrick.||Includes bibliographical references.


255 pages




Northern Illinois University

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