Date of Award

Spring 1-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Keith Larick, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Cindy L. Petersen, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Arthur J. Roland, Ed.D.


Purpose: The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed methods study was to identify the political styles of exemplary suburban elementary school district superintendents and school board members in Southern California as perceived by superintendents. In addition, it was the purpose of this study to identify and explain the political strategies exemplary suburban elementary school district superintendents in Southern California use to work with the different political styles of school board members.

Methodology: This study utilized a sequential explanatory mixed methods research design. Quantitative data were collected through surveys to determine how superintendents perceived their own political style and the political style of their board members. Qualitative data were collected through standardized, semistructured interviews to identify the strategies exemplary superintendents use to work with the political styles of board members.

Findings: Exemplary superintendents use a variety of strategies and adapt their strategies to the political styles of their board members. They invest time in getting to know their board members to build relationships and trust and focus on establishing open and proactive communication. Governance was found to be an important strategy that worked with all political styles of board members. The exemplary superintendents were politically savvy and brought a positive attitude to working with the board.

Conclusions: It was concluded that superintendents must have an understanding of political styles, and develop, adapt, and use political strategies that will allow for positive and trusting relationships with their board members. Superintendents must establish open communication, devoting time into communicating with the board. Superintendents who invest time in governance will have boards who understand their role and operate as a governing unit. Superintendents who view their board as an asset will improve their effectiveness, longevity, and survivability in their position.

Recommendations: Recommendations for further research included a meta-analysis of the political styles thematic dissertation, political strategies used by superintendents during crisis, strategies for working with assertive political styles, and replicating the study in the public sector.