Principals' perception of leadership in the process of transforming the school culture : the case of introducing a new 'preventing violence and creating safe climate intervention process' in Israeli secondary schools
This thesis describes and analyses the principals' perception of leadership in the process of transforming the school culture as reflected by their experience in introducing a new government initiative "Preventing Violence and Creating Safe Climate Intervention Process" in Israel's secondary schools. Since the study's aim was to investigate the principals' perception of their leadership, the interpretive research paradigm and inductive analysis were chosen as the study's methods. The data were collected primarily from semi-structured in-depth interviews. Furthermore, the research findings were enriched by the findings obtained from a self-completion questionnaire, used in the initial phase, which preceded the qualitative research as well as by documents collected at school. The sample population of the present study consists of fifteen secondary school principals who participated in the new initiative and agreed to participate in the present study. Analysis of the findings shows that the principals perceived three factors as enabling them to transform the school culture. Those factors were the principals' impact, school processes and external support. However, the findings show that the principals perceived their impact as the most meaningful factor enabling them to lead the transformation in their school culture. Their impact was composed of four main components: mindscape, values, modelling as well as personal involvement. Those components reflected their worldview and guided them in the transformation process. The findings indicate that the Israeli secondary school principals who participated in this study, perceived their leadership as being a transformational-strategic leadership having social mission. Two central aspects of this perceived leadership were prominent in the present study: a moral aspect and a pedagogical aspect. These aspects differentiated between the principals as expressed in their different approaches, which affected their transformation of the school culture. Whereas the principals who stressed moral aspects of their leadership viewed the school role extended beyond the school context, based its moral purpose on ethical values and led the transformation collaboratively with their staff and parents, the principals who shared pedagogical aspects based their leadership on intra-organisational practical values and led the transformation by means of various mechanisms ranging from collegiality up to authoritative style both with their staff and parents.