Jimmy Dolson

Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

David Anderson, EdD, Chair

Committee Member

James Berry, PhD

Committee Member

Sarah M. Ginsberg, EdD

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson, EdD


This research project focused on explaining the decision-making process of K12 Christian school superintendents who were members of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) organization. In spite of similar religious and philosophical beliefs, it was observed that ACSI K12 Christian school superintendents differed significantly in organizational decision-making.This dissertation investigated the construct of ideology as a possible explanation of this phenomenon. This project attempted to explain the ideology of selected Christian school superintendents, uncover the formation of ideology throughout life, and demonstrate usage ideology in organizational decision-making.

This study used a qualitative research methodology with narrative analysis in the phenomenological research tradition. Nine K12 Christian school superintendents throughout Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio participated in the study. The research methodology included development of a grand narrative for each participant, thematic development of ideology for each participant, and an axial thematic analysis across all nine superintendents. Transcripts, grand narratives, research journals, and artifacts were used as research records to help discover participant ideology.

Findings of the project revealed that ideology consists of four elements. Values, situations-of-conflict, commitments, and influences were important in forming participants’ ideologies. Additionally, these four elements were found to exist in a relationship to each other. The results of those relationships revealed that ideology is a blend of values to satisfy superintendent commitments; that value selection is dependent on the situation-of-dilemma; and that influences in life affect commitments and values. From those relationships a framework evolved. The framework was shown to supplement Thompson’s (2008) organizational model and expanded his propositional hypotheses about organizational behavior.