Bonaiuto, Susan, Ellin Booras, Kerry Dunne, Lauren Gilbert, Jose Antonio Libano, and Lincoln Lynch. “Taking the Leap”, Boston College, 2012. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/2600.
Framed in the context of increased media attention focused on a shortage of qualified candidates for the superintendency of public school districts, this study examines the thought process of educational leaders who are in a position to pursue the superintendency. A review of the literature explored the increasing challenges of the position itself, and examined business and psychology literature concerning applicant attraction and the concept of fit including the factors that may attract and deter potential applicants. Qualitative research methods were used to illuminate the thought process that accompanies consideration of the superintendency. The following research questions were considered: what factors, including job desirability and accessibility, influence the pursuit intentions of individuals qualified to be superintendent, and, how does the mix of motivators and inhibitors impact the decision to pursue or not to pursue the position? Twelve in-depth interviews were conducted with graduates of a doctoral program in educational leadership, all currently working as educational leaders in public school districts. Coded transcripts from the interviews highlighted the importance of perceived positional and organizational fit, the use of a common mental checklist to conceptualize fit, and the weight that is applied to different factors. Data also pointed to the ways in which female and racial/ethnic minorities experience the pursuit process differently, especially in terms of their access to pipeline networks. Recommendations are made for professional associations of educational leaders, search agencies and school districts, and higher education.