Date of Award

Spring 1987

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thom, Carl

Second Advisor

Martin, Thomas

Third Advisor

Fox, Robert


The concept of organizational culture has been receiving a growing amount of attention in education as well as in business. In this emphasis devising a means for uncovering culture becomes a special concern. Edgar H. Schein developed a definition of culture and then designed a method for uncovering it. Schein defined culture as a pattern of basic assumptions which focuses on external adaptation and internal integration issues. An example of an external adaptation issue deals with determining the organization's main purpose. An example of an internal integration issue is how power and status are obtained. The assumptions about the external adaptation and internal integration issues become taken-for-granted and are used to orient new members to their work and to the organization. By uncovering organizational culture, some important information can be learned and understood, for example, the purpose of the organization, the ways the purpose is achieved, and personal relations within the organization. If the personnel of an organization learn its culture, they then can plan improvements. The major question addressed in this research study was the following: Is Schein's method of uncovering organizational culture suitable for uncovering a portion of the culture of a Lutheran elementary school? Schein's 10-step method of uncovering culture--joint exploration through iterative interviewing--utilizes repetitive personal interviews as its main means of obtaining cultural information. In addition, on-site observation is used to gather data. Schein used his method successfully as he uncovered the culture of several business organizations. The question than arose whether school culture could be uncovered by replicating Schein's 10-step method. The purpose, then, of this research study was to test the suitability of Schein's method for uncovering culture in three Lutheran elementary schools. Schein's 10-step method was replicated in three school settings. By using Schein's method, a portion of the culture of those three schools was uncovered. The study demonstrated that Schein's method was suitable for uncovering culture in three Lutheran elementary schools.



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