Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD; Daniel M. Miller, PhD, Johanna S. Hunsaker, PhD


case study, international schools, Leadership studies, narrative analysis, organizational culture, qualitative, school reculturing


Organizational theorists and even practitioners are beginning to use the construct of organizational culture to analyze and characterize the complexities and challenges of organizational life. The construct has been used to metaphorize, frame, interpret, and understand various aspects of organizational life, including leadership and the change process. The literature indicates that leaders can influence an organization by attending to its cultural dimensions. Much of this literature, however, is theoretical and speculative, and the empirical work has focused, for the most part, on business. The overarching purpose of this qualitative study was to enrich understanding of the culture construct and its relationship to leadership and change by examining how leaders in a highly atypical, outlier organization employed the notion of culture during a three-year change process. Specifically, this study focused on the reculturing process in an international school environment, which was especially appropriate because the new superintendent had repeatedly used the notion to promote change. The primary research method utilized in this study was interviewing; participant observation and document analysis were employed to triangulate interview data. Data analysis involved the use of two quite different strategies, which Polkinghorne (1995) calls narrative analysis and analysis of narratives. Narrative analysis involves reconstructing the data as a chronology that tells the story of what occurred. Analysis of narratives involve a more traditional coding approach that organizes the anecdotal information gathered during the data collection phase into predetermined and emergent categories. The following findings are implicit in the story resulting from the narrative analysis process and made explicit in the analysis of narratives results: (a) Culture had become part of the “native language” for most—but not all—members of the administrative team. (b) Those who used the construct attached somewhat different—though not radically inconsistent—meanings. (c) An array of reculturing mechanisms were identified by those interviewed. (d) The effectiveness of the identified mechanisms appears to vary, although in most cases, interviewees suggested variability had more to do with implementation issues rather than with the adequacy of the mechanisms themselves. (e) Interviewees identified a range of resistance strategies that members of the organization employed.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access