Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Marie Cianca

Second Supervisor

Linda McGinley


School districts, and their individual schools, are guided by the leadership of superintendent-principal pairs. While superintendents and principals have a working relationship, not all these working relationships can be described as a partnership. Little is known about how partnerships between superintendents and principals are developed, maintained, and repaired and how established partnerships impact organizational effectiveness. Specific to suburban districts, the recent increased level of accountability for student achievement, under the Every Student Succeeds Act, is amplified due to the decrease in threshold numbers for accountability subgroups. The purpose of the study was to examine principal-superintendent partnerships in suburban districts using the four components of West and Derrington’s (2009) framework for leadership teaming. In addition, the study examined how principal-superintendent partnerships contribute to accountability and organizational effectiveness. The study used a qualitative research design to study the experiences of six principal-superintendent pairs. Data were collected using semi-structured dyadic interviews. Three major findings emerged from the study. First, the principal-superintendent partnership flexed the hierarchical boundaries that exist in K-12 education. Second, the development of principal-superintendent partners is an effective leadership strategy towards increasing organizational effectiveness. Third, as part of a principal-superintendent partnership, principals have the opportunity to become more innovative as leaders. This study provides recommendations for research, superintendents, principals, professional organizations, and higher educational institutions.

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