Public school district organizational culture and decision making : an African-American female perspective

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Nobles, Karen Bohls

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This case study examined the decisions made by an African-American female public school administrator as she attempted to redefine the organizational culture of a large, urban public school district. The purpose of the study was to determine the foundation of the school administrator’s decision-making strategies, and how her gender and racial identity development impacted those decisions. The framework of the study was established through a literature review that included the topics of school leadership issues impacting women; the development of an Afrocentric feminist epistemology, an African-American identity, and African-American socialization; and the effects of gender on the development of female self-concept and cognition. Qualitative research strategies were used to gather and analyze data. The African-American female administrator served as the primary study participant. The researcher conducted 10 interviews with the primary study participant. The main focus of these interviews was a discussion of the decisions the primary study participant made regarding the process of redefining the school district organizational culture. Each interview was audiotaped and transcribed by the researcher. The researcher also observed the primary study participant for two eight-hour work days. The researcher used fieldnotes to record the data from these observations. Three additional secondary study participants, identified by the primary study participant, were interviewed. The secondary study participants were asked to discuss their impressions of the primary study participant’s decision-making ability with regards to redefining organizational culture. The secondary study participant interviews were audiotaped and transcribed by the researcher. Three techniques, member checks, an audit trail, and triangulation, were used to ensure data credibility and integrity. Five major themes emerged from the data analysis. These themes included communication, accountability, alignment, relationships, and coaching/mentoring/ teaching. These themes were matched to findings from other studies about African Americans and women. Information from this study should provide the reader with an opportunity to reflect on his or her own decision-making strategies.



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