An investigation of female leaders' perceptions of organisational culture and leadership in a Catholic High School

by Jean-Louis, Lily-Claire Virginie

Abstract (Summary)
For the past thirty years, leadership theories have focused on the importance of the individual within the school organisation. The shared assumptions and beliefs of the individuals working in the same organisation shape the school’s organisational culture, and organisational culture is a salient factor which should be considered when understanding educational leadership. The focus of my study is to explore the relationship between organisational culture and leadership. In the same context, new approaches to the study of leadership have explored the issue of gender in leadership. Female leadership studies - the second focus of this study - seek not only to restore the place of the individual but also argue a place for women in educational leadership.

Based in the interpretive paradigm, this is a case study of a Catholic all-girl secondary school called the Loreto Convent School of Pretoria. Historically, the Loreto schools have aimed at promoting and empowering girls’ education and female leadership. It was therefore an appropriate site in which to explore organisational culture and its relationship with leadership, particularly female leadership. I purposefully chose three of the school’s female leaders - the school’s principal, the High school Head of Department and the High school head girl - focusing on their perceptions and experiences of their leadership and the school’s culture.

My research findings show that an understanding of the relationship between organisational culture and leadership cannot be complete without acknowledging the importance of the leader as an individual, with his/her personal background and values, taking into account gender as well as the multiple roles that the individual has in society. Furthermore, the ‘humane’ characteristic of educational leadership leads to an understanding that the leader is often confronted with conflicting situations where he/she is caught between personal/organisational values and the need to achieve the task. Finally, my findings show that contemporary leaders are now called upon to work and participate in the promotion of social justice in order to fight against society’s socio-economic inequality and improve the quality of education and life.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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