That Dog Don't Hunt: A Narrative Inquiry About Superintendent Sustainability
Yarbrough, Melissa Kay Byars
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Research suggests that, despite a great deal of training and job experience that typically precedes the ascension to a district level leadership position (Lamkin, 2006), superintendent career sustainability/longevity is often very low (Grogan & Andrews, 2002; Shulte & Hong, 2011) with average superintendent tenure at approximately seven years (Kowalski et al., 2011). This finding is important due to the fact that superintendent tenure has been identified as a contributing factor to positive student outcomes (Waters & Marzano, 2006; Robinson, Lloyd, & Rowe, 2008). Anomalies exist, however, when superintendents stay in the position for extended periods of time and sustain their careers with reputations and motivation intact.The purpose of this qualitative narrative inquiry, utilizing the theoretical framework of Person-Environment Fit (P-E Fit) Theory, was to explore the life and career of one successful, long-term superintendent serving in a mid-sized urban school district. This superintendent has remained in a district leadership position for over four decades with xx years in the district where he is currently serving. P-E Fit postulates a relationship between career satisfaction and the individual's fit for the position and suggests that fit may change and develop in context and over time.Findings revealed three contributing factors to his longevity: personal financial, political, and relationship building skills; leadership characteristics of intellect, tenacity, vision, accountability, and integrity; and contextual/environmental factors of family heritage and personal fulfillment. These findings support the application of P-E Fit Theory to this particular career, specifically Sekiguchi's (2004) concept of dynamic P-E fit and Yang and Yu's (2009) ideas about the importance of the influence of positive work-based affect. It also supported the work of Truxillo et al. (2012) that focuses on crafting careers to create better job satisfaction, work output, and organizational commitment throughout the lifetime of the employee.
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