Effect of Organizational Climate on School-Related Discussions Involving the Elementary Principal
Sheldon, Gary Hayden
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The problem. This study examines the effect of organizational climate in elementary schools on: 1) the nature of school-related discussions with or by the principal, 2) who initiates school-related discussion with the principal, 3) the location of initiation of school-related discussion, and 4) the amount of such activity. Procedures. The population for this study consisted of the behaviors of principals in their interactions relative to school-related discussions in public elementary school settings. Two types of settings were selected for comparative purposes: one setting was considered as relatively "open" in organizational climate and the other setting was considered as relatively "closed" in organizational climate. An instrument was developed which measured three dimensions: the nature of school-related discussions, the initiators of school-related discussions, and the location where school-related discussions were initiated. The study dealt with the classification of types of school-related discussions involving the principal, who initiated the school-related discussion and the location where the school-related discussion occurred. Data were gathered through direct observations using an observation record. For each principal, that data collected by the observer and the principal were combined and categorized in each of the three dimensions by frequency. It was then possible to use a Chi-square to determine independence of each of the three classifications and organizational climates. Findings. The organizational climate of the school affects the nature (valence and topic) of school-related discussion with or by the principal. The organizational climate of the school affects the type of individual who initiates school-related discussion with the principal. The organizational climate of the school affects the location in which school-related discussion is initiated with or by the principal. Each of these were significant at the .001 level. Conclusions. Principals in relatively "open" organizational climate schools participate in school-related discussions which tend to have valence, either positive or negative, while principals in relatively "closed" organizational climate schools participate in such discussions which tend not to have valence. Co-Curricular, In-Service and Professional Growth topics are initiated more frequently in relatively "open" organizational climate schools. School-related discussions occur more frequently with the Assistant Principal, pupils, supervisors, coordinators, and consultants in relatively "open" organizational climate schools, while such discussions are held more frequently with secretaries in the relatively "closed" organizational climate schools. Principals in relatively "open" organizational climate schools participate in school-related discussions more frequently in the teachers' lounge, halls and classrooms of the school, while those in relatively "closed" organizational climate schools participate in such discussions more frequently in the school office area. Recommendations. Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that school district policy makers, central administrators and community representatives should study the interactions and differences in interactions which exist between climates, decide which climate is preferable, and then, based on that decision, provide in-service for school administrators to promote the type of climate desired. In addition, further research should be undertaken to determine if the sex of the principal, the school organization, the age, and/or the administrative experience of the principal affects school-related discussions between schools of the same climate or across climate types.
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