Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

W. Richard Fossey


The purpose of this study was to examine the organizational socialization experiences of beginning principals. This study approached the problem through a mixed methodology strategy of research, using both quantitative and qualitative techniques. A factor analysis of 187 responses to a socialization survey instrument resulted in three components of socialization which were used as the dependent variables in the study. Variation was found in the principals' socialization level, but this variation was not predicted by any of the independent variables. For the dependent variable vision, African-American principals reported higher mean scores than white principals; also, principals in elementary schools showed higher scores than non-elementary school principals. Principals who worked in a different school during the previous year showed a greater dependence on staff than principals promoted from within the school; also, male principals showed a greater dependence on staff than female principals. Six individuals were selected as case study subjects, and were observed and interviewed during their first semester as principals. The six principals were compared on the basis of the primary socialization forces encountered in their work, their response to the socialization process, and their resulting level of socialization. Personal forces such as the principals' philosophy, promotion context, personality, and vision were usually strong and often positive. Organizational forces such as interactions with students, faculty, and the Central Office were sometimes strong and often negative. Four of the six case study principals were found to have custodial responses to the socialization process, while two had innovative responses. Also, variation was found in the principals' socialization level, ranging from the lowest to the middle stages of socialization. The study found that beginning principals in Louisiana have a vision about what they want their schools to be, but constraining forces within the organization often prevent them from placing that vision into action. Because of these constraints, the socialization of beginning principals is a process that is not likely to bring about change or innovation.