Term of Award

Fall 2001

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Administration

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Michael Richardson

Committee Member 1

Brayan Griffin

Committee Member 2

Cathy Jording

Committee Member 3

Fred Page


School administrators make numerous decisions every day, ranging from simple, routine decisions to complex decisions. These decisions are governed by standards that go beyond the set of circumstances under consideration. This study explored the beliefs, standards, philosophical frameworks, and processes utilized by school principals in making decisions.

Qualitative interview research methods were used since the purpose of the study was exploratory and descriptive. Participants included six public school and four private school principals. Five were female and five were male. The data was analyzed by reviewing the transcripts of the taped interviews and by the use of computer software. The FIRO-B was administered and demographic information was collected. Findings were reported in narrative style.

Most of the principals defined ethical decision making as doing what was right. The investigator found no difference in the articulated understanding of ethical decision making by male and female principals. Further, there was no difference noted between public and private school administrators. All of the principals discussed ethical decision making as an imperative.

Most of the principals cited their respective experience, education, upbringing, values, and beliefs as influencing the rules they used to determine an ethical course of action. Further, they maintained that the standards do not change with the circumstances or context. Rather, the application of those standards varied.

All of the respondents maintained that personal beliefs effected administrative decision making. As a group, they agreed that one's personal beliefs defined who he or she was. One's actions, then, could not be separated from the convictions, beliefs, and attitudes that were woven into their human fiber.


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