Date of Award

Fall October 2013

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Franca Dell'Olio

Second Advisor

Edmundo F. Litton

Third Advisor

Emilio Pack


Principal leadership is crucial to improving school effectiveness and positively affecting organizational culture in the midst of expectations from education reform mandates. Principals who provide direction and exercise influence can inspire commitment from organizational members to attain shared goals. Rural school principals face unique obstacles and situations as documented in the research and literature. This qualitative research study aimed to provide insight as to the perceived impact of transformational leadership behaviors and characteristics on organizational culture. This study also provided insight as to the transformational leadership behaviors and characteristics perceived to positively affect organizational culture. The protocols, which included interviews, were administered by the researcher to principals and certificated teachers at four rural elementary schools (two elementary schools not in Program Improvement [PI] and two elementary schools in PI) in Fresno County that met specific student demographic criteria. The data from the interviews provided insight regarding increased individual and collective stress in rural elementary schools due to the unprecedented expectations of NCLB. The organizational response to this increased stress was found to be contingent on the behaviors and characteristics by the rural elementary principal. The findings indicated a difference in perceptions between certificated teachers at the rural elementary schools not in PI and in PI. The rural principals in non-PI schools utilized communication to define clear expectation, and a collaborative decision making process to develop a shared vision which cultivated trust among certificated teachers to improve organizational culture and student academic achievement. The rural principals in PI schools were found to have utilized bureaucratic leadership approaches. The bureaucratic leadership approaches led to increased stress and frustration among certificated teachers. Frustration was found to have negatively affected organizational culture and no improvement in student academic achievement. This study validated the need for rural school principals to be aware of effective leadership approaches to positively affect organizational culture.