Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


School principals; Executive succession; Educational leadership;


In order to better understand the realities of principal succession (an interactive sequencing process for changing school administrators) it was the purpose of this study to examine the relationship between four organizational frames (structural, human resource, political, and symbolic) delineated by Bolman and Deal (1997) and three traits noted in the literature as evident during school principal succession (predecessor leave-taking, succession source, and experience). There is little research regarding school principal succession, and concern exists regarding the adequacy of transition practices within organizations. A questionnaire was employed to survey all school principals in the state of Kansas who succeeded during the 1997–98 or 1998–99 school years.

Three rationalizations for the study were: (a) an information base for successor principals, (b) an information base for school districts to access during the hiring process, and (c) an information base for institutions of higher education as they design training programs. Recommendations and suggestions for further research are given for each area of rationalization.

The research questions explored and the conclusions for each are as follows:

(1) As a function of the predecessor's reason for leaving, what differences will there be in the perceived importance of each of the four frames (structural, human resource, political, and symbolic)? Conclusions were (a) successors value all frames regarding Predecessor Status less when their predecessors left to go to a different district, and (b) the inevitable conflict within a group because of enduring differences and scarce resources as well as understanding the symbolism surrounding “why we do what we do here” outweighs the necessity of organizational configurations and the role principals' competencies play within organizations.

(2) What differences will there be between successors from outside the district and successors from inside the district in the perceived importance of each of the four frames (Structural, Human Resource, Political, and Symbolic)? Conclusions were that (a) inside successors valued the Political frame more than outside successors, and (b) contingencies within the Political frame such as power, competency and influence, whether the stakeholders had a say in hiring, and the personality of the predecessor were the issues that most likely influenced decisions to hire from inside or outside the district.

(3) How is the perceived importance of each of the four frames (Structural, Human Resource, Political, and Symbolic) related to the number of years of school administration experience prior to entering the present position? Conclusions were that (a) respondents (a majority of whom had the least experience) valued symbolism more than they did the other frames regarding experience, and (b) their valuing of symbolism increased with years of experience.

(4) What are the relationships among the four frames (structural, human resource, political, and symbolic)? Conclusions were that (a) all the frames were statistically significantly correlated, (b) the Structural Political, and Symbolic frames were positively correlated with each other, and (c) the Human Resource frame was negatively correlated with the other three, suggesting that successors consciously attend to specific competencies considered vital within the Human Resource frame.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

David Else, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 124 pages)



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