Type of Document Dissertation Author Hodgins, Diane Weaver Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-04032007-021851 Title LMX Revisited: A Woman Superintendent Leading through Dyadic Relationships Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Jeffrey S. Brooks Committee Chair Jeffrey A. Milligan Committee Member Lynn A. Wicker Committee Member Sherry Southerland Committee Member Keywords
- Women Administrators
- Ethnographic Study
- Case Study
- Leader-Member Exchange Theory
- Organizational Theory
- Women Superintendents
- Leadership Theory
- PK-12 Superintendents
Date of Defense 2007-03-14 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe purpose of this case study was to examine how a woman superintendent led her school district in the state of Florida. The approach I used to study her leadership was informed by the Leader Member Exchange (LMX) theory. At the base of this theory rests the fundamental premise that a leader forms different types of relationships with members and thus influences the outcomes of the organization (Sparrowe & Liden, 1997). Critics argued this theory was not fully developed in considering how gender may or may not influence the structure of understanding between each leader-member relationship. In this study, I examined how dyadic relationships were negotiated over time through a series of exchanges between a woman superintendent and individual members of her district.
Support for this approach was found in research on the K-12 public superintendency. Examination of this research revealed a shift in the demands on the officeholders of the superintendency, which led to a reconception of the position. This reconception meant superintendents must now effect change in their districts through the influence and critical awareness of work activities. At the base of this influence and awareness are the relationships negotiated between the leader and individual members of the district. This study contributed to the understanding of the superintendency by examining how a woman superintendent’s relationships with members of her district allowed her to reconceptualize the position.
A second area of support for the use of this theory was found in the research on women superintendents. Research on these administrators was limited in the past due to the small number of women in the position. As more women entered the superintendency, there was more opportunity to gather comprehensive data. One area of limited research was how a woman superintendent’s experience as a leader may challenge what is known about leadership theory. This study contributed to this area of research by examining a woman superintendent’s leadership through LMX theory.
This case study utilized an ethnographic approach to research this woman superintendent’s leadership. I conducted multiple interviews with the superintendent, as well as with site-level personnel in her district. In addition, I collected extensive observation data in naturalistic settings such as board meetings, planning sessions, and other district functions. Interviews and observations were triangulated with the collection and analysis of documents.
Conclusions drawn from the data indicated this woman’s leadership challenged what is known about LMX theory. Specifically she challenged existing notions of leadership within a hierarchical system and ultimately created a shift in the leadership paradigm from the “good old boy” network to the “new woman” way of leading. Her commitment to equality meant she managed relationships through transparent leadership, which resulted in the creation of system-wide out-groups. Data supported gender may have been at the base of this change and thus a challenge to what is known about LMX.
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