Publication Date


Degree Program

Educational Leadership

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which the principal and teacher leaders at four purposefully selected schools collaboratively developed theories in practice related to the exchange between empowerment and accountability envisioned by education reform writers. The researcher posited that the tradeoff between empowerment and responsibility envisioned by policymakers would never occur without the principal and teacher leaders forming a consensus-building group and co-developing theories in practice as the basis for improving schools. Two research questions guided this investigation: (a) To what extent were principal espoused theories in practice and modeled behaviors congruent and (b) To what extent did the principal and teacher leaders co-develop theories in practice related to the trade-off between empowerment and accountability. The researcher used a qualitative, multiple case study design to examine theories in practice at four purposefully selected schools. Data were collected by interview, observation, document mining, and norm checklist. The researcher conducted semistructured interviews with six teacher leaders and the principal at each site. A focus group comprising four teachers assisted the researcher in clarifying the wording on the norm checklist at each school. The researcher coded and categorized until a saturation point was reached. Findings indicated that the principal influenced, to a great extent, the codeveloped theories in practice of teacher leaders and the principals. Many commonalities surfaced in this study among and between principal theories in practice and among and between principal and teacher leader co-developed theories in practice. The four most common themes comprising the collective theories in practice were: (a) building relationships, (b) focusing on students as a priority, (c) making collective decisions, and (d) accepting responsibility for school-wide outcomes.



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