A case study of the organizational culture of four Lutheran high schools

Joyce Sidonia Natzke, Marquette University


This study focused on the school organizational culture of four Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) high schools who are members of a highly cohesive religious church body. The primary purpose was to examine two basic assumptions: (1) Schools within such a close community vary little in culture; and (2) Orientation is usually limited to beginning teachers and seldom deals with organizational culture because most teachers are educated within this church body's higher education system. The study sought to: (1) describe the organizational culture of each high school; (2) identify differences and/or similarities among these school cultures; (3) identify the educational background of the primary or founding principal and describe that person's influence on each school; (4) define each school's orientation procedures for teachers who are newcomers; and (5) identify other individuals who influenced the development of each school's culture. Comparative and cross-case study methods were used to study each respective school's culture. A triangulation format was designed to pursue cultural description through three means: interviews, physical evidences and historical records. Through these areas, the researcher uncovered the artifacts, values and assumptions which, according to E. Schein, comprise the culture of an organization. This study revealed that these schools differed from one another in organizational culture while still similarly grounded in the religious principles and doctrines of the WELS. The differences were significant enough within and among the schools to conclude that: (1) members of the organization were not always knowledgeable of the various aspects that shape the school's culture; (2) school organizational culture was not given consideration when newcomers were called to teach; (3) some type of orientation program was conducted at each school, but no program addressed assimilation into the culture; and (4) no school had studied its own culture.

Recommended Citation

Natzke, Joyce Sidonia, "A case study of the organizational culture of four Lutheran high schools" (1996). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9719085.