Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Chad D. Ellett

Second Advisor

Joseph W. Licata


The focus of educational reform in recent years has shifted to the restructuring of schools. Many reformers have defined restructuring in terms of the decentralization of power within schools (Elmore et al., 1990). Yet, there is little research to suggest how such decentralization will affect teachers and improve schools. Given this scarcity, the purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between the degree of centralized decision-making which exists in a school, teachers' cognitive and affective work alienation, and multiple indices of school effectiveness. Such relationships were examined within the context of Seeman's (1972) framework of social change as applied to schools. Viewing teacher work alienation as a mediator of the relationship between school centralization and effectiveness, five hypotheses were constructed and tested. Sixty schools were selected for study. Survey data were collected from teachers in this sample; each school made available the appropriate effectiveness data. Using schools as the unit of analysis, the following results were obtained: (1) a significant, positive correlation was found to exist between centralization and both measures of work alienation; (2) relationships between work alienation and the various effectiveness indices were mixed in both direction and magnitude; (3) relationships between centralization and the effectiveness indices were likewise mixed in direction and magnitude; and (4) when the effects of alienation were statistically controlled, the magnitude of the relationship between centralization and effectiveness was considerably reduced. These results suggest that Seeman's framework is formulated at a level of abstraction that does not easily fit schools as organizations. The framework fails to account for the mixed results obtained between centralization and the various indices of effectiveness. Given this inconsistency, it would appear that the concept of school effectiveness stands in need of further clarification. Development of a taxonomy which considers the various levels and nuances of school effectiveness is needed to guide future research. In addition, it would appear that work alienation does mediate the relationship between school centralization and effectiveness. Such findings call into question the appropriateness of the tight-ship metaphor as a descriptor of the effective school.