Date of Award

Spring 2-18-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Keith Larick

Second Advisor

George Sziraki

Third Advisor

Marylou Wilson


Purpose: The purpose of this explanatory sequential mixed methods study was to identify and describe perceived political styles of school board members and the strategies superintendents employ to work with them.

Methodology: This explanatory sequential mixed methods study analyzed quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews to answer the research questions in regard to the political styles of exemplary rural elementary superintendents and school boards and the political strategies superintendents use to engage with their school board members.

Findings: Examination of mixed methods data from the five school districts participating in this study indicated a variety of findings. The major strategies exemplary rural superintendents of elementary school districts used to work with the political styles of board members were categorized into four themes, including communication, relationships, governance training, and personal mastery.

Conclusions: It is concluded that rural elementary superintendents who communicate by establishing regular contact, listening actively and strategically, and anticipating the needs of board members are more effective. Additionally, rural elementary superintendents who build relationships by showing respect and being honest and transparent build more trusting relationships with board members. Providing learning opportunities for board members to understand their roles, responsibilities, and governance practices and policies will result in more efficient working relationships between the superintendent and board members. Finally, rural elementary superintendents who implement strategies to manage their emotions through reflection are better positioned to negotiate conflict, allow time for processing, and allow board members to lead.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to understand the scope of research conducted in the political styles thematic; understand political styles from the perspective of board members; understand the most effective ways to implement this research through professional learning opportunities; differentiate findings by setting (urban, rural, and suburban); and identify strategies specific demographics such as female leaders or superintendents of county offices of education use.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.