Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Thomas L. Alsbury


With the 2004 enactment of centralized educational reform in Berlin, school leaders were charged with increased responsibilities and autonomy, but with minimal training, decreased funding, and limited authority---in the not-so-distant aftermath of the reunification of 1990. The purpose of this study was to gain understanding of educational leadership, the implementation of reform, and the influence of cultural background from East or West on school leaders in Berlin.;Grounded theory methodology was utilized, conducted through a cultural lens as set within a particular historical context of Berlin. In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 school leaders of secondary vocational schools in Berlin, a university professor, a government education official, and a German labor attache.;Results indicated differing perceptions depending on backgrounds from East or West. Noted were differences in orientations toward the individual or the collective; cultural positioning in the marginal East or the dominant West; and perceptions concerning risk-taking, age, teaching and learning, and power and authority. Impacts affecting Schulleiter and their capacity to implement reform were identified in four general contexts: economic, political, and social context; global and international context; local school context; and the context of change itself.;Conclusions concur with previous research, indicating that leadership is culturally determined; that universal attributes are enacted differently in different contexts; and that perception directly influences preferences and behaviors. Also identified was that change is difficult and painful; that values, assumptions, and perceptions are embedded and difficult to change; and that perceptions and ways of thinking of the dominant are more embedded and difficult to change than the marginal.;The "double-edged sword" existence of respondents from the East illuminated the presence of cultural myths in schools. Leaders are thus challenged to create environments acknowledging culture as complementary , establishing cultural organizations that integrate cultural consciousness and cultural communication. For only in embracing awareness, respect, and value of all cultures, does organizational culture become truly cultural, then increasing the likelihood of addressing existing inequities and disparities in the classroom.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Nanci Lynne Shaw



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

295 pages