Date of Award

Fall 1980

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Martin, Thomas

Second Advisor

Bogenschild, Erika

Third Advisor

Nordberg, Robert


The principal of a school is charged with the final responsibility for making intelligent and informed decisions. This experimental study examined how that final decision is affected by the principal's leadership style, the degree of compatibility among staff members, and the interaction between leadership style and compatibility. Eighteen Milwaukee Archdiocesan Catholic elementary schools served as the experimental units for the research with each unit consisting of the school principal and two, three, or four teachers. The teachers were selected alphabetically. The experimental session at each school was conducted in four phases: (1) The leadership style of the principal was determined through the use of Fiedler's Least Preferred Coworker instrument (LPC). This was done by mail several weeks prior to the actual experimental session. (2) The level of staff compatibility was assessed through the use of Schutz's Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior instrument (FIRO-B). (3) A measure of individual performance on a decision-making task was obtained by requiring all subjects to complete, as individuals, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Decision Game. (4) A measure of group performance on a decision-making task was obtained by requiring all subjects to complete, as a group, the NASA Decision Game. The NASA Decision Game involved the decision-making task of ranking fifteen items needed for survival if a spaceship were to crash-land on the moon. A 2 x 2 factorial design was employed in this study with four schools per cell. Two schools served as the control group. The independent variables were the leadership style of the principal (task-oriented, relationship-oriented) as measured by the LPC and the interchange compatibility of the staff (low, high) as measured by the FIRO-B; the dependent variable was the group score obtained on the NASA Decision Game. The major results of the study were as follows: (1) Group performance on the experimental task was superior to average individual peformance (p < .001). (2) Group performance on the experimental task was superior to the principals' average individual performances (p < .001). (3) Groups that had a task-oriented (low LPC) principal performed better on the experimental task than did groups that had a relationship-oriented (high LPC) principal (p < .05). No significant difference in performance was found between the compatible and non-compatible groups. These results generally supported classical small-group theory; however, neither Fiedler's contingency theory of leadership effectiveness nor Schutz's compatibility theory were supported. There were indications that, given a more precise measure of compatibility, Fiedler's theory would have been substantiated. Recommendations for further research were made to that effect.



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