Superintendents' Advice Seeking and Related Behavior in the Age of Strategic Reform
Hall II, Wilburn Keith
This research project examines school superintendents’ advice-seeking behavior as it relates to strategic decision making. Using an exploratory design intended to launch follow-on studies to pioneer this field of research in education administration, the study combined field observations with open-ended interviews to find out if mandated state and federal school reforms had increased superintendents’ focus on strategic matters, and, if so, how advice-seeking tendencies influenced related decision-making processes. Time-on-activity data showed a large increase in strategic behavior, and triangulation of interviews revealed four advice-seeking behaviors (Isolation, Broad Search, Confer with Consultants and Other) that basically described two tendencies (limited search or broad search for alternatives). Although similar to CEOs in several areas, superintendents were found to differ in a unique way: school administrators who tended to limit input leaned toward isolation, whereas business executives who limit input prefer to confide in friends or CEOs like them (seeking people who would affirm rather than challenge their ideas).