Date of Award

Fall 1995

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kurimay, Michael


This study explored what the staff, principal, and/or school board or superintendent do to develop and maintain a trusting environment. The purpose also looked to address how trust is evidenced in schools and to explore and provide a basis for a description of management practices in schools having various trust level environments. The case study approach was applied. The study involved the validation of a trust measure to assess trust level as it relates to colleagues, the principal, and the district in general. During the first phase, attitudes towards and willingness to participate in school reform, specifically site-based management were addressed. At the conclusion of this data collection, it was found that there was a strong correlation between attitude and willingness to participate in school reform, specifically site-based management. During the second phase of this study, the role of the colleagues, principal, or central office was examined as indicated by the individual school's responses to the trust level instrument through focus group follow-up interviews. Conclusions include: (1) a positive high level of trust of the principal has a positive effect on attitude and participation related to school reform; (2) the principal who is perceived as having a lower trustworthiness had problems with accessibility and confidentiality; (3) professional sharing of materials and ideas and supporting of risk-taking increased collegial trust and school improvement efforts; (4) sites with strong collegial trust supported colleagues professionally and personally; (5) the socialization of staff outside of the school setting and school time had little effect on their working relationship; (6) the level of organizational trust was neutral and had little or no effect on the attitudes and participation related to school reform; (7) teachers more likely accept change when it is espoused by someone they trust. Several practical and organizational implications can be made regarding the development of a strong trust level within the school setting. Implications have been categorized into 3 areas: (a) screening of principals; (b) training of principals; and (c) structural issues.



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