The motivation of school board members: a view from the orchestra

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Bentley, Richard Ellsworth

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This study examined the motives leading to a school board seat for five sitting board members. The researcher employed a qualitative methodology and the context for text analysis used by directors in the theatre. The primary theoretical framework was constructed from Cavalier’s Triarchic Theory of Motivation. The participants and researcher co-constructed the scripts utilized in the analysis. The district superintendent served to provide and enhance the trustworthiness of the texts and the examination. The methods and participants provided a rich contextual data for analysis. The interview protocol for the five school board members was modeled after a technique introduced during a graduate course with Dr. Nolan Estes. The method was then used during a graduate course taught by Dr. Richard Schott at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and then expanded upon using Seidman’s phenomenological structure. A Critical Incident Technique model was used to structure the interview protocol for the superintendent. The findings from the study revealed the primary source of motivation for board membership is external as prospective board members are recruited by current board members, the superintendent, or influential community members and groups. Certainly the people and events contributing to the board member’s Unbroken Line of Motivation must be understood by the superintendent to know where the board member is coming from as they go about their work however; the behaviors associated with recruitment must be understood in the context of board membership. The findings contributed to the development of two theories, Stock Character Theory and Inner/Outer Circle Theory. Recommendations for superintendents and individuals serving in similar roles in local governmental organizations are presented. The findings and recommendations should add to the current literature on school boards.