Term of Award

Fall 2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Teri Melton

Committee Member 1

Juliann McBrayer

Committee Member 2

Alexis Smith


This qualitative phenomenological research study examined how politics influence school superintendents’ decisions. The problem that the study addressed was that Pre-kindergarten through 12th (P-12) grade school superintendents are often ill-prepared to manage political influences and counter restraints that impact their decision-making regarding matters of leading student success. The purpose of the study was to examine how P-12 school superintendents understand and respond to political influences on their decision-making regarding matters of leading student success.

The researcher developed and pilot-tested a semi-structured interview protocol to collect data for the study. Study participants included seven retired superintendents from two southeastern states. Findings revealed that the major influences on superintendents’ decisions were school boards, parents, community members, and teachers. These stakeholders attempted to influence the superintendents in matters pertaining to accountability and fiduciary responsibilities, as well as with schools and facilities. The strategies most often used by the superintendents to respond to the political influences were identifying key stakeholders, deciding the best course of action, networking and forming coalitions and communication.

The findings of this study are intended for use by P-12 superintendents to more effectively manage political influences. By sharpening their acuity for building the necessary relationships with influential stakeholders, superintendents are more likely to achieve the required outcomes for effectively leading student success.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material


Available for download on Tuesday, November 14, 2023