Research Outline and Literature Review

Research Outline and Literature Review

Marleen Greenleaf

University of Phoenix

Research Outline and Literature Review

Problem Statement

The leadership of an organization establishes the agenda, influences the organization’s culture and helps to shape the way employees deliberate and conduct themselves (Tsai, 2011). While school leaders are being viewed as role models, employees look to see if their behavior is consistent with the school’s adopted values and philosophy. Effective school leadership is the key leading ingredient of culture and helps to shape the school’s culture, which in turn shapes leaders (Tsai, 2011). Leadership drives both performance and the long-term effectiveness of the school.

School culture is critical to the success of schools, but is too often overlooked or ignored by school leaders (Rosenberg, et al, 2010). The purpose of leaders in education school reform efforts is to improve teaching and learning, but the specific problem is that the school culture is toxic and not hospitable to learning, causing student achievement to suffer (Watson, 2001). According to Sparks (2013) most principal training provides less focus on the skills and strategies for creating a positive workplace culture, which are more commonly found in management training for other industries. Some research has shown that principals who learn to attend to culture appear to demonstrate improved academic leadership. According to Torres (2015) in his qualitative research study on teacher autonomy and retention, the expectations and satisfaction of charter school teachers are arbitrated by the organization’s model or practices.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this proposed qualitative action research study is to examine the influence school leaders have on the culture of schools within Public Charter schools in Washington, D.C. The focus will be on the leadership skills of school principals and administrators. A sample of 7 Principals and Academy Directors with Tier 1 and Tier II school status, based on their performance during the 2014-15 academic year, will be recruited to participate in in-depth interviews and participant observations. The interviews will provide an understanding and perception of the type of leadership skill(s) being utilized by each school leader and its effectiveness on faculty morale and performance. A focus group and classroom observation will also be conducted with teachers to gain their perspective on school leadership and the impact it has on their performance. The goal of the proposed action based research study is to demonstrate how the correlation between leadership skills and the culture of schools, influences schools performance and public charter schools are obligated to demonstrate academic success, in order to maintain their charter.

Keywords: Leadership, Culture, School performance, Public Charter School,

Research Questions

The primary focus of the dissertation topic is on leadership in charter schools and how it impacts the culture of the school in a positive or negative way. School leadership sets the agenda, influences the culture and helps to shape the way employees deliberate and conduct themselves. While school leaders are being viewed as role models, employees look to see if their behavior is consistent with the school’s adopted values and philosophy. School leadership helps to shape the culture, which in turn shapes strong leadership. They both drive performance and the long-term effectiveness of the organization.

The qualitative study research questions include;

Empirical Data Analysis

  • Does the type(s) of leadership behavior positively/negatively shape the culture within Charter schools?
  • Have Charter schools experiencing leadership challenges implemented changes to make the school more viable and improve citizenship behavior?
  • Do leaders shape the schools culture by adopting different leadership styles through training programs?
  • Can transformational leaders incorporate additional types of leadership models to effectively improve the culture of the Charter school?
  • Does the lack of ethical leadership affect the citizenship of Charter schools with similar goals and visions?

Empirical research incorporates actual experiences and observations, and does not expend research based concepts or opinions. School leadership and its impact on the school culture, the field of study for this dissertation research, will focus on charter schools in Washing, D.C. For the data collection, my field is currently in education, working behind the scenes in Charter school administration. As part of the executive and leadership team, I have access to the board of trustees and would utilize these leaders and their peers for qualitative data collection through observations, and direct, one-on-one interaction or in a group setting. Also, as part of the personal development team for staff and operations managers, I would use the cohorts as part of my research in data collection.

Knowing that qualitative research data collection can be time consuming and costly, my goal is to collect data from a smaller group sampling and utilize available resources for assistance with the leg work and eliminate the cost to hiring an assistant.

The research paradigm that best aligns with the qualitative research methodology for data collection of the research study is the interpretivism paradigm. The data collection resources will include conducting interviews, observations, visual data analysis and document reviews.

Literature Review of Peer Reviewed Articles

The literature review examines charter schools leadership and its impact on school performance. Three peer reviewed articles are included in this review. They include a case study of middle grades leadership in a conversion charter school, how charter schools inspire change in comparison to public schools, and accountability with charter school leaders.

The dissertation focus is on leadership in Charter schools and how the school culture impacts the leadership in an organization. According to Gillespie and Mann (2004), transformational leaders motivate their followers to excel in job performance by making them more aware of the significance of the organization’s goals and values, and how it appeals to their growth (p. 590), hence the choice of these three articles on school leadership.

Each article has an essential theme on the impact charter school leadership has on school performance and culture. According to Bickmore and Dowell (2015), middle grade school leadership in takeover middle grade charter schools, exhibited potential issues in school performance, due to the lack of experience, autonomy and effective leadership. Further research is however needed, as there was limited research related to leadership in middle grade charter schools. Charter school reform, according to Linick, and Lubienski (2013), has limited impact on changes in district public schools. Highlighted in the study is the impact (or lack thereof) leadership behavior and internal forces (school culture) has on the competition of the charter schools. Further research is recommended on understanding how student learning in charter schools, relates to that of public schools. The leadership accountability research paper, investigated the ways in which charter school leadership influence professional development and instructional practices in classrooms. According to Gawlik (2015), charter school leaders draw daily on their own interpretation of accountability polices, which influences key leadership practices and school performance. Further research is needed on how charter school leaders in low performing schools construct accountability policies and how it impact change in the classrooms.

The research paradigms are foundations of qualitative research methodologies, utilizing the critical theory research paradigm, as the research studies involve examination and action in the social sciences.


Charter school leadership can impact the school culture and successful school reform and improvement begins with positive cultural change and in order to effect cultural change it must begin with the school leader.


Bickmore, D. L., & Dowell, M. S. (2015). A case study of middle grades leadership in a conversion charter school. National Association of Secondary School Principals. NASSP Bulletin, 99(1), 43-69. doi:

Gawlik, M.A. (2015) ‘Shared sense-making: How charter school leaders ascribe meaning to accountability’, Journal of Educational Administration, 53(3), pp. 393–415. doi: 10.1108/jea-08-2013-0092.

Gillespie, N.A., Mann, L. (2004). Transformational leadership and shared values: the building blocks of trust, Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 19 Iss: 6, pp.588 – 607

Linick, M., & Lubienski, C. (2013). How charter schools do, and don’t, inspire change in traditional public school districts. Childhood Education, 89(2), 99-104. Retrieved from

Mackenzie, N. & Knipe, S. (2006). Research dilemmas: Paradigms, methods and methodology. Issues In Educational Research, 16(2), 193-205.

Rosenberg, M.S., Westling, D.L., McLeskey, J. (2010) The Impact of Culture on Education. Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Sparks, S. (2013). Principals Lack Training in Shaping School Climate. Education Week;3/6/2013, Vol. 32 Issue 23, p8

Torres, A. (2014). “Are we architects or construction workers?” Re-examining teacher autonomy and turnover in charter schools. education policy analysis archives, 22, 124. doi:

Tsai, Y. (2011). Relationship between Organizational Culture, Leadership Behavior and Job Satisfaction. BMC Health Services Research, 11, 98.

Watson, N. (2001) Promising practices: what does it really take to make a difference? Education Canada, 40 (4), 4–6.