First Advisor

William D. Greenfield

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

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


Educational Leadership and Policy




School principals



Physical Description

3, vii, 214 leaves 28 cm.


Many school administrators begin their careers in educational administration as assistant principals. The literature on assistant principals contributes very little to an understanding of the perspectives that assistant principals develop during their organizational socialization experiences and of the conditions and processes that influence the development of these socialization outcomes. The purpose of this study was to develop a theoretical understanding of the perspectives that emerge from assistant principals' organizational socialization experiences. Symbolic interactionism established the theoretical and methodological foundation for this study. The sensitizing concepts of perspective (Becker, Geer, Hughes, & Strauss, 1961), situational adjustment (Becker, 1964), and organizational boundary passages (Schein, 1971; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979) provided the analytic framework. The Glaser and Strauss (1967) constant comparison model guided the process of collecting and analyzing data. Six assistant principals with experience from three months to three years were interviewed. The study resulted in a grounded theory that describes the perspectives that the assistant principals developed and explains the processes and conditions that influenced the development of these organizational socialization outcomes. The results of this study suggest that assistant principals develop a common set of perspectives in response to a common set of problematic situations. These perspectives include: "it takes time to learn," working for the principal, working with other assistant principals, doing tasks, working effectively with teachers, and an integrated perspective. Assistant principals appear to develop these perspectives using a situational adjustment process that includes assessing the requirements of problematic situations, experimenting with ideas and actions to determine how to behave, and choosing strategies that enable them to respond successfully to the situational requirements. The requirement to pass through the functional, hierarchical, and inclusionary boundary passages appears to be the most important organizational factor influencing the development of administrative perspectives. The quality of assistant principals' preparation experiences, their styles and longevity as teachers, and their motivation appear to be the most important individual factors influencing the development of administrative perspectives. Teachers appear to be the most powerful socializing agents. The assistant principal's role may provide essential preparation for a principal's role and may have the potential for developing leadership.


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