Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Spencer J. Maxcy


Throughout the last decade, parents and communities have continued to press for more control over their schools in an attempt to improve performance. Members of the educational community have begun calling for school restructuring to return decision making power to the school site professionals. These calls for the decentralization of our highly centralized school systems have prompted educators, researchers and political scientists to examine the organizational settings in which schools operate. This study investigated the influence of organizational structure, namely centralized bureaucracy and decentralized autonomy on school leadership and the relationship of that leadership to the school's culture. The study has been conducted in two phases. Phase I was quantitative in nature and examined the managerial practices of the principal. Phase II focused on the culture of the school as it is influenced by the principal and is a qualitative case study of four schools operating in both types of organizational structure as they exist in the public and non-public sector. Phase I employed a survey with responses subjected to chi-square analyses. Ten administrative tasks were selected to determine if a relationship existed between the type of governance (public/non-public) and the perception of organizational structure (centralized/decentralized). Six of the tasks showed a significant relationship. Phase II sought to discover the principal's role in shaping the culture of a school which operated in each organizational structure. Qualitative case studies were employed to focus on a school in each group. Sashkin's framework was employed in a cross-case analyses. In both the public and non-public sector, decentralization seemed to enhance the principal's role in the culture building process.