our nal | Vol.10 | No2 | Year 2020
A Q-Methodological Analysis of School Principals’
Decision-Making Strategies during the Change Process
M S S M K*
e purpose of the research was to explore the decision-making strat-
egies that school principals employ while dealing with the challenges
faced during the change process at schools. e study was conducted in
two cities located in Central and Southeast Turkey, with a sample com-
prising primary, middle and secondary school principals, selected via
a purposive sampling technique. Q methodology, a qualitative-dominant
mixed methods research design, was used in the study. e researchers
developed and used a concourse of specic items that target school
principals’ decision-making strategies about change-related challenges
in schools by taking a perception-driven decision-making model as the
theoretical framework. e statistical soware PQMethod was used for
data analysis. e ndings revealed that school principals shared similar
views via the item congurations provided regarding decision-making
during times of change, and had a similar prole in terms of decision-
making and related strategies. e behavioural decision style was found
to be the preferred style. e principals had a prole featuring a high
focus on people and low cognitive complexity. e dominant beliefs
driving their decision-making strategies seemed to incorporate compre-
hensive evaluation of the current situation, ethical concerns and organi-
sational values, assessment of technical details, and thorough data col-
lection. Some implications are drawn for researchers and practitioners.
Keywords: school principals, organisational change, decision-making
strategies, decision-making prole, Q methodology
Faculty of Education, Gaziantep University, Turkey.
*Corresponding Author. Department for Primary Education, Faculty of Education, Gaziantep
University, Turkey; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Q-metodološka analiza strategij odločanja ravnateljev
med procesom uvajanja šolskih sprememb
M S S M K
Namen raziskave je bil preučiti strategije odločanja, ki jih uporabljajo
ravnatelji pri spoprijemanju z izzivi v procesu uvajanja šolskih spre-
memb. V raziskavi, ki je bila izvedena v dveh mestih v osrednji in ju-
govzhodni Turčiji, je sodelovalo ravnateljev osnovnih in srednjih šol,
izbranih s tehniko namenskega vzorčenja. V raziskavi smo uporabili
metodologijo Q, tj. dominantno kvalitativno raziskavo mešanih metod.
Raziskovalci so razvili in uporabili nabor specičnih elementov, ki so
se osredinjali na strategije odločanja ravnateljev glede izzivov, poveza-
nih s šolskimi spremembami, pri čemer so kot teoretični okvir uporabili
model odločanja, ki temelji na zaznavi. Za analizo podatkov smo upora-
bili statistično programsko opremo PQMethod. Na osnovi podane kon-
guracije elementov so rezultati pokazali, da so imeli ravnatelji podobne
poglede na sprejemanje odločitev v obdobju sprememb ter podoben pro-
l pri sprejemanju odločitev in s tem povezanih strategij. Prevladujoči
slog odločanja je bil vedenjski. Osebnostni prol ravnateljev je pokazal
močno osredinjenost na ljudi in nizko kognitivno kompleksnost. Vi-
deti je, da prevladujoča prepričanja ravnateljev, ki vplivajo na njihove
strategije odločanja, obsegajo celovito oceno trenutnega stanja, etične
premisleke in organizacijske vrednote, oceno tehničnih podrobnosti
in temeljito zbiranje podatkov. Nekateri sklepi v članku so namenjeni
raziskovalcem in strokovnim delavcem v vzgoji in izobraževanju.
Ključne besede: ravnatelji, organizacijske spremembe, strategije
odločanja, prol odločanja, Q-metodologija
our nal | Vol.10 | No2 | Year 2020
Decision-making is a signicant management process (Lunenburg,
a) and stands out as one of the most critical responsibilities of managers
(Atsan, ; Drucker, ). It involves choosing the most reasonable view or
alternative from a variety of views and alternatives related to an issue, and mak-
ing a judgment in order to attain the desired result (Şişman, ). Bursalıoğlu
() regards decision-making as the heart of management, arguing that it
serves as an axis for other management processes. In all organisational settings,
including educational organisations, decision-making is an essential manage-
ment task (Clayton, ), as people who hold administrative positions have to
make decisions in order to accomplish their daily responsibilities (Khasawneh,
Alomari, & Abu-tineh, ). School principals are among the main actors re-
sponsible for decision-making in the daily running of schools. However, the
way they tend to act with regard to decision-making during organisational
change is an issue requiring further investigation. is study therefore attempts
to explore school principals’ decision-making strategies during organisational
change at schools, thus contributing to the existing literature on decision-mak-
ing and organisational change.
Decision-making inherently covers a dynamic and complex set of pro-
cesses (D’Angelo, ) oen requiring the participation of many stakehold-
ers, not just the manager, and a compendium of various characteristics and
strategies. e decision-making process can be characterised as “the process of
coping with contradictions and inconsistencies that emerge over time from dif-
ferent sources” (Eranova & Prashantham, , p. ). Decision-making styles
describe the manner in which people make decisions, react to problems, handle
information and interact with others (Boulgarides, ). In the educational
domain, for example, a decision-making style refers to the method employed
by school principals in certain administrative tasks when faced with a situation
that necessitates choosing between two or more possible choices or actions in
order to arrive at a conclusion (Weiss, ). In the literature related to deci-
sion-making in schools, one of the most investigated topics is the link between
decision-making, on the one hand, and leadership and personality traits, on
the other. With regard to leadership and personality traits, Mason () found
that, compared to other variables, leadership style had the most impact on
principals’ decision-making, a result that was conrmed in a study by Hariri,
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Monypenny and Prideaux (). Güçlü, Özer, Kurt and Koşar () found
that school principals’ personality traits and leadership styles had an eect on
their decision-making style. Likewise, Ercan and Altunay () found that
there was a positive relationship between school principals’ personality traits
and decision-making styles. With regard to certain other variables, such as ex-
perience, Nixon () revealed that seniority in principalship and previous
work experience inuenced the way principals made decisions. In the Trimmer
() study, it was determined that experienced principals are more likely to
take risks in decision-making. Finally, in a study by Halama (), self-reg-
ulation was found to be an important element in decision-making regarding
workplace situations. e author determined that high self-regulation increases
vigilant thinking and eliminates maladaptive ways, such as procrastination or
buck-passing. Taken together, leadership and personality traits, experience,
and self-regulation are some of the aspects linked with the decision-making
approaches of school principals, as suggested in previous research.
School principals constitute the administrative sta who have to make
decisions concerning the running of schools. ey do the planning, organising,
leading and monitoring required in order for schools to function (Lunenburg,
b), and must deal with a range of diverse situations (Hoy & Tarter, ).
While undertaking these tasks and managerial responsibilities, and when
dealing with situations, school principals need to make decisions by consider-
ing both internal and external factors. At this point, the system within which
school principals have to make decisions seems to be the determining factor
regarding decision-making. In Turkey, public school principals are entrenched
in behavioural patterns and responsibilities structured by governmentalities
(Kalman & Arslan, ); therefore, the decision-making process may be af-
fected by a variety of factors, most of which are elements of the centralised
system-wide structure, such as the regulations of the Ministry of National
Education (MoNE). Sezer () evinced that Turkish school principals are af-
fected by certain internal and external factors in the decision-making process.
Among the internal factors are teachers’ views and suggestions, vice-principals’
views and suggestions, and the instructional goals of the school. e external
factors are reported to be laws and regulations, the views and suggestions of
school-parent associations, the general education policy of the country, and
the demands of the top management of the MoNE. e Sezer () study
was framed according to school principals’ perceptions, and the participants
in the study did not therefore count themselves among the inuencing fac-
tors. In a dierent study by Güçlü et al. (), however, teachers argued that
school principals and regulations aect the decision-making process. Bakioğlu
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and Demiral () consistently found that school principals examined regula-
tions when beset with uncertainty while making decisions. Furthermore, they
needed support from their vice-principals and experienced managers of other
schools, as well as from teachers and school counsellors in their own schools.
e evidence provided in the Shakeel and DeAngelis () study consistently
demonstrates that the inuence of private school principals on school-level
activities through decision-making is greater than that of public school prin-
cipals. All of these research results support the ndings of Bursalıoğlu (),
who argued that the most powerful factor aecting the decision-making pro-
cess, taking into account both internal and external factors, is the degree of
centralisation. Another signicant issue aecting decision-making is organisa-
tional culture. e type of culture organisations nurture may aect the way de-
cisions are made (Al-Yahya, ; Basi, ). Keeping this in mind, the present
study attempts to reveal how Turkish school principals make decisions while
dealing with problems arising in the organisational change process. e study
is signicant in that it aims to provide exploratory information with regard to
school principals’ decision-making strategies during the change process, with
the hope of lling the void in the related literature by evincing the strategies
employed by school principals in times of change. It is widely accepted that
change has become an integral part of organisational policy-making due to its
far-reaching eects for the survival, development and renewal of an organisa-
tion (Fullan, ; James, ; Lewis, ). Change in organisations may lead
to major alterations in structures, strategies and culture, as well as minor modi-
cations such as rules and procedures (Smollan, ), usually accompanied
by a cascade of uncertainties, problems and complexities. In an atmosphere of
high turbulence and turmoil, school principals have to make decisions, which
confronts them with two dicult managerial tasks: decision-making and change
management. e present study therefore attempts to gain insight into the deci-
sion-making strategies of school principals during the change process.
Purpose of the Study
e present study attempts to explore decision-making strategies used
by school principals while dealing with the challenges faced during the change
process at schools. To this end, the research question that guided the present
study was: What do school principals pay more attention to while making deci-
sions during the change process at schools?
e research had the following objectives:
• To provide rst-hand descriptions of the decision-making styles of a
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group of school principals, as perceived by them during times of orga-
• To present Q methodology-induced data (with a mixture of qualitative
and quantitative research traditions) in order to gain a deeper insight
into the decision-making styles employed by school principals in two
dierent cities with varying cultural and contextual aspects.
• To expose the emerging value-laden aspects (if any) of the decisions
made by school principals on turbulent ground with some ambiguity (at
times of organisational change).
Q methodology was employed in the present study in order to gain
an insight into school principals’ decision-making strategies. Q methodol-
ogy has been recognised as a mixed research approach (Newman & Ramlo,
; Ramlo & Newman, ), as qualiquantology (Stenner, ), and more
recently as a qualitative-dominant mixed method research (Ramlo, a) that
examines human subjectivity (Brown, ; Ramlo, , c), that is, “the
communication of a personal point of view” (McKeown & omas, , p. ).
is methodology helps us to understand the diversity of perspectives (Zabala,
) and compare various typologies regarding individuals’ behaviour pat-
terns (Yang & Bliss, ).
In the present study, the research question was probed using Q meth-
odology because it involves determining various views within a group about a
specic topic and the co-construction of meaning depending on views (Hutson
& Montgomery, ; Newman & Ramlo, ). According to Ramlo (a), Q
is a methodology comprising a technique, a method and a philosophical frame-
work, rather than being a technique of measurement or a method. It covers the
data collection procedure, the analytic process, and the conceptual and philo-
sophical framework (Ramlo, b). Two open-ended questions were provided
below the concourse to reveal why the principals preferred the “most like” and
“most unlike” statements. is allowed them to explain the underpinnings of
their preferences of decision-making strategies. e answers to these questions
were presented through qualitative descriptions.
At the beginning of the study, a total of school principals work-
ing at primary, middle and secondary schools participated in the study. e
our nal | Vol.10 | No2 | Year 2020
participants (the P-set) were chosen according to pragmatic considerations
(McKeown & omas, ) concerning their potential to have varying points
of view about the topic under investigation (Paige, ). e principals were
recruited from two cities in Central (N = ) and Southeast Turkey (N = ).
However, only of the Q-sorts were usable: two forms were not lled out cor-
rectly and were therefore removed from the dataset. e demographic charac-
teristics of the participants are presented in Table .
Demographic characteristics of the participants
Demographics N %
Gender Male 25 86.1
Female 4 13.9
25–35 years 8 27. 5
36–45 years 17 58.6
46–55 years 4 13.9
1–5 years 14 48.3
6–10 years 9 31
11 years or more 6 20.7
Primary 10 34.5
Middle 6 20.7
Secondary 13 44.8
As Table shows, the majority of the participants were male (N = ).
More than half of them (N = ) were – years of age, and nearly half of
them (N = ) had – years of experience in principalship. Most of them were
employed at primary (N = ) and secondary (N = ) schools.
Data Collection Procedures
e researchers rst draed a comprehensive collection of statements
(Paige, ; Ramlo, , a) based on Rowe and Boulgarides’s () per-
ception-driven decision-making model. e rst concourse of statements in-
cluded items based on four decision-making styles (analytical, behavioural,
conceptual and directive), as suggested in the Rowe and Boulgarides model.
Half of the statements were negative and the other half were positive. Aer
forming the rst dra of the concourse (the Q sample), the researchers sent it to
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three other researchers in the eld of education to check the comprehensibility
of the statements and whether there were linguistically overlapping statements.
Some statements were re-worded, and eight statements were removed from the
concourse aer receiving the external researchers’ suggestions. e nal con-
course included statements about the decision-making approaches/strate-
gies of school principals in the change process. e Q sample was presented
to the participants to rank-order the statements into a quasi-normal distribu-
tion grid on a nine-point scale (i.e., two statements each at –/+ , two at –/+ ,
three at –/+ , three at –/+ , and four at ) from + (most like my view) to -
(most unlike my view). Two open-ended questions were also provided below
the Q sorting grid to reveal the participants’ underlying views regarding + and
– statements through their own written explanations or statements. Table
shows the nal version of the concourse and the numbers assigned to the items
on the grid.
e Q Sample (Concourse)
In the decision-making process:
I try to obtain every detail and all technical information related to the problem. (23)
I like to make decisions based on the data available to me. (12)
I try to ﬁnd innovative solutions to problems. (8)
I prefer to think about the problem superﬁcially. (17)
I trust my intuition. (4)
The important thing is to produce a solution to the current problem. (21)
I believe that social relations in my school are at the heart of decision-making
When making a decision, I refrain from making long-term analyses. (3)
In any decision-making process, you need to think about how it will aect those on
the receiving end. (11)
In any decision-making process, I try to carefully review/consider everything related
to the problem. (18)
The decision-making process can be a selﬁsh one. (7)
When making a decision, if necessary, I can disregard social relations in my school. (2)
Decision-making is a process that involves risk-taking. (13)
When making decisions, I consider ethical and value-based issues carefully. (24)
I believe in the necessity of sharing power and authority in the decision-making
In the decision-making process, I try to be careful not to cause negative conse-
Rationality/logic is the most important thing guiding me in decision-making. (20)
I feel the need to control everything while making a decision. (1)
I feel time pressure in the decision-making process. (5)
I tend to make a choice from among the options in the decision-making process. (22)
I expect to see/feel everyone’s respect for the decision I have made. (19)
To me, every decision should be based on extensive/careful evaluations. (14)
I try to produce as many dierent alternatives as possible when making a decision. (6)
I do not care much about whether other people I work with approve of my decisions
or not. (10)
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As shown in Table , the nal concourse included statements repre-
senting four dierent aspects of the decision-making model used in the study.
Figure shows the quasi-normal distribution grid that was presented to the
participants to rank-order the given statements, each of which was numbered
randomly, based on their own preferences. Each statement was written on a
small card with its assigned number in order to make it easy for the participants
to sort the statements into the corresponding box on the grid (Crosby, ).
e quasi-normal distribution grid used in the research is provided in Figure .
–4 –3 –2 –1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4
Figure . e quasi-normal distribution grid.
Before conducting the research, the participants were given information
and instructions on how to use the statements and the grid. Each participant
was asked to sort, rank and order the statements in the Q sample using the grid
provided in Figure . e ranking/sorting/ordering process lasted about min-
utes for each participant. As the selected principals participated in the study on
a voluntary basis, the data were collected over a period of one month.
Aer the data were gathered, the Q sorts of the participants (the rank-
ing of the statements) were analysed using PQMethod . soware (Schmolck,
), which is available for research purposes free of charge. e Q sorts were
examined using factor analysis and interpretation to determine whether the
participants’ views converged or diverged regarding the research topic (Paige,
). e use of factor analysis enabled the researchers to determine how the
participants shared similar to divergent points of view (Paige, ). e sig-
nicance level was calculated using the equation (= . x ( ÷√no. of items in
Q set)), as specied in Demir and Kul’s () book on Q methodology and
Crosby’s () research. It was found to be . for the present study.
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As a result of the principal component analysis followed by hand ro-
tation, it was seen that the participants’ views were grouped into one factor.
Following the hand rotation, the participants who were represented by a factor
were agged/selected and indicated with Xs (Newman & Ramlo, ). Only
one participant’s views diverged from the rest of the principals. A total of
participants (.) were found to share similar views about their decision-
making strategies during the change process at schools. e principals’ answers
to the open-ended questions were also used as qualitative evidence in relevant
contexts to reveal the rationale and the cognitive processes (strategies) em-
ployed in decision-making. e factor loadings concerning the items and fac-
tors are presented in Table .
Participant Factor 1 Participant Factor 1
4.74 67X19 .5956X
10 .6679X25 .4654*
11 .8895X26 .6943X
12 .6432X27 .8373X
13 .6775X28 .6511X
14 .74 50X29 .6033X
Total participants 29 principals
Note. No signiﬁcant loading on any factors.
our nal | Vol.10 | No2 | Year 2020
Table indicates the factor loadings that were equal or higher than the
signicance level, which was determined to be . in this study. A total of
participants signicantly loaded on Factor . e factor loading belonging to
the th participant was not signicant. Factor had an Eigenvalue of .
and explained of the total variance. Table indicates Z scores regarding the
statements and Z-score rankings of the statements. e statements were ranked
based on the points of view of principals.
Z scores regarding the statements and the ranking signicance of the statements
24 When making decisions, I consider ethical and value-based issues care-
fully. (CON) 1.414 1
18 In any decision-making process, I try to carefully review/consider every-
thing related to the problem. (BEH) 1.384 2
14 To me, every decision should be based on extensive/careful evaluations.
(DIR) 1.327 3
8 I try to ﬁnd innovative solutions to problems. (ANAL) 1.182 4
23 I try to obtain every detail and all technical information related to the
problem. (ANAL) 1.172 5
21 The important thing is to produce a solution to the current problem.
(ANAL) .889 6
6 I try to produce as many dierent alternatives as possible when making a
decision. (DIR) .861 7
13 Decision-making is a process that involves risk-taking. (CON) .546 8
9 In the decision-making process, I try to be careful not to cause negative
consequences. (CON) .383 9
11 In any decision-making process, one needs to think about how it will aect
those on the receiving end. (BEH) .367 10
20 Rationality/logic is the most important thing guiding me in decision-
making. (CON) .355 11
12 I would like to make decisions based on the data available to me. (ANAL) .181 12
22 I tend to make a choice from among the options in the decision-making
process. (DIR) -.168 13
15 I believe in the necessity of sharing power and authority in the decision-
making process. (CON) -.243 14
4 I trust my intuition in the decision-making process. (ANAL) -.426 15
5 I feel time pressure in the decision-making process. (DIR) -.487 16
1 I feel the need to control everything while making a decision. (CON) -.502 17
16 I believe that social relations in my school are at the heart of decision-
making processes. (BEH) -.587 18
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19 I expect to see/feel everyone’s respect for the decision I have made.
(DIR) -.631 19
3 When making a decision, I refrain from making long-term analyses.
(BEH) -.882 20
2 When making a decision, if necessary, I can disregard social relations in
my school. (BEH) -1.039 21
10 I do not care much about whether other people I work with approve of
my decisions or not. (DIR) -1.307 22
17 I prefer to think about the problem superﬁcially. (ANAL) -1.754 23
7 The decision-making process can be a selﬁsh one. (BEH) -2.034 24
Table demonstrates the Z scores belonging to each statement aer the
analytic process. It was found that statements had positive values and had
negative values. Positive values indicated that the school principals agreed with
the statements regarding the aspects considered during the decision-making
process, whereas negative values referred to the statements that the school prin-
cipals disagreed with while making decisions during the change process. When
the top six “most like my view” statements are examined, it can be seen that
the school principals paid attention to considering ethical and value-based is-
sues carefully in the decision-making process. e statement “When making
decisions, I consider ethical and value-based issues carefully” had the highest Z
score (Z = .), implying that the participating principals seemed to perceive
themselves as value-laden administrators when engaged in decision-making at
times of organisational change.
e statement with the second highest Z score was related to the careful
delineation of every detail related to the challenges faced in the decision-mak-
ing process; “In any decision-making process, I try to carefully review/consider
everything related to the problem”. Making careful evaluations, nding innova-
tive solutions to problems, endeavouring to access all technical information
and details related to the problems, and viewing the solution of the current
problems as pivotal were among the issues that the school principals paid more
attention to prior to making decisions about the challenges faced during the
change process at schools. P explained his views as follows: “It is of high im-
portance to be ethical in decisions, to get them internalised and to be well in-
formed about the problems.” Another principal commented: “Being mindful and
thoughtful is important in decisions. Logical decisions should pass through the
ethical values lter…” (P). P noted that: “e most important thing in the
decision-making process is to nd a solution to the problem. is must be done by
complying with values and ethics…” Consistent with P, P and P, participant
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P believed that: “If a decision is to be made, it should rst be considered in
detail and made in accordance with ethical rules…”
P focused on the signicance of the decision-making process: “Deci-
sion-making is a ne-tuned task and a process that requires attention to details…”
P had similar views: “Before making a decision, I prioritise analysing every-
thing thoroughly to avoid making mistakes…” P stated that: “Details and techni-
cal knowledge are important to me in the decision-making process…” Another
principal (P) noted that: “While giving importance to innovative thinking,
having technical knowledge increases the accuracy of my decisions…” In parallel
to P, P and P, participant P argued that: “Decisions must be made without
rushing and by examining every detail…”
As can be understood from the principals’ views, ethicalness, values,
collecting detailed and technical information, and making careful evaluations
were the most highlighted and prioritised factors in decision-making. Hence,
either adhering to these principles as an ideal intention or applying them on
the ground shows that principals are bound to take values and ethical issues
seriously in decision-making processes. eir concerns regarding the issue of
obtaining detailed information and making comprehensive evaluations may in-
dicate that the principals were keen to make determined, long-term and sound
decisions rather than quick-x and unsustainable decisions that could exacer-
bate the existing situations and problems.
e statements that the school principals rejected or disagreed with
were seen to have negative Z scores. A total of statements were rejected by
the school principals. e top six “unlike my view” statements were related to
self-interest (selshness), a supercial examination of problems, others’ views
(i.e., respect for or approval) of the decisions made, refraining from long-term
analyses, and the role of social relations in the decision-making process. e
statement with the highest negative Z score (z = -.) was; “e decision-
making process can be a selsh one”. is statement was conceived as a negative
strategy or approach related to the behavioural approach in decision-making.
P opined that: “Selshness aects the functioning of the institution negatively.
Social relations at school can never be underestimated…” Another respondent
pointed out that: “Monolithic decisions do not assure eciency…” (P), while P
specied the role of consulting others: “Consultation is needed instead of selsh-
ness in the decision-making process...”
e statement with the second highest Z value was related to the su-
percial examination of the problems faced. e principals disagreed with this
statement, as they may believe that the challenges faced during change require
careful delineation and consideration in schools. P focused on the negative
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impact of selsh and supercial thinking: “Supercial thinking reduces the qual-
ity of judgment. Selsh thinking gives rise to the possibility that the decision may
cause new problems in the future…” P shared a similar view: “A long thinking
period and collaboration should precede decisions…”
Nearly all of the principals had similar views on the negative impacts of
selshness in decision-making during the change process at schools. Obtaining
other colleagues’ approval regarding decisions was also considered to be signi-
cant. It can be suggested that the school principals regarded social relations in
schools to be critical in decision-making in the change process. ey believed
that a supercial or selsh approach may lead to ineciency, future problems,
and dysfunction in the organisation. Some of them delineated their views on
the importance of participatory or collaborative decision-making as follows:
“e opinions of the people I work with are important to me; no decisions
should disrupt our social relations…” (P)
“When making decisions, my teammates are supposed to agree with me. I
have to make a decision that they will approve of and accept…” (P)
“It cannot be expected that everyone will respect the decisions made. e
people I usually work with are important in the decision-making process...” (P)
However, three of the principals had divergent views on social relations
in decision-making at times of change: “School interests are more important
than my social relations with people…” (P). “If I believe that I have made the
right decisions, I do not give much credit to the approval of others…” (P). “When
social relations are placed at the heart of the solution process, instead of relying on
available data, decisions made under the heavy burden of emotions will be fast
but subjective anyway…” (P).
A Z-score analysis regarding the data collected from the participants
displayed the proles regarding decision-making more clearly. Table shows
the four dimensions and their average Z values.
Average Z values were calculated using the following formula, employed
by Yıldırım ():
means = (Z value of each positive statement for each dimension (the sum
of positive statements for each dimension) – Z value of each negative
statement for each dimension (the sum of negative statements for each
our nal | Vol.10 | No2 | Year 2020
Average Z values regarding decision-making dimensions
Dimension Z means of positive statements Z means of negative statements X
Behavioural 1.164 -3.955 .853
Analytical 2.535 -1.291 .638
Directive .528 -.933 .243
Conceptual 1.554 .399 .192
When the school principals’ decision-making strategies are examined in
the light of average Z values, it can be seen that the most preferred dimensions
are behavioural (Xz = .), analytical (Xz = .), directive (Xz = .) and
conceptual (Xz = .). Considering the two most preferred dimensions (i.e.,
behavioural and analytical), it can be asserted that there is a strong focus on
social interactions and on the feelings and thoughts of school sta, and that the
principals had a high tolerance for ambiguity and attempted to use abundant
information when making decisions during the change process. e Z means
of these two dimensions were higher than those of directive and conceptual
Discussion and Conclusion
School principals have to make decisions that can aect the school, the
instructional programmes, and the students and teachers on a daily basis. ese
decisions are expected to be good decisions in an environment that requires
prompt action (Calabrese & Zepeda, ). At times of organisational change,
however, decision-making becomes a more critical issue due to the turbulent
nature of change. e present study aimed to reveal how school principals make
decisions during the change process and to determine what they care about
most: tasks, people or both. e factor analysis indicated that the school prin-
cipals’ decision-making strategies were grouped into one factor, which means
that they shared similar decision-making strategies when dealing with the chal-
lenges faced during the change process at schools. Based on the ndings, it
can be suggested that the school principals had a similar prole and general
characteristics with regard to decision-making and the strategies used in the
decision-making process. It was concluded that the school principals reached
a consensus regarding the issues to be considered in the change process. ey
believed that ethical and value-based issues are signicant when making de-
cisions during the change process. In this respect, the principals seemed to
- ’ - ...
employ behavioural style-driven decision-making due to the dominant mo-
tives arising from context and culture-bounded aspects, such as, arguably, a
compelling need for “being socially acceptable and bureaucratically t”. is
nding is in accordance with Kasprzhak and Bysik’s () study, which found
“contextual factors” to be the driving force behind Russian school principals’
e issues on which the school principals shared similar views were:
thinking of or reviewing every detail related to the problems faced, making
extensive and careful evaluations, nding innovative solutions to problems, and
appealing to thorough data collection. ese aspects were supported with the
principals’ verbal explanations. e points that the school principals rejected
or were against were found to be: considering decision-making as a selsh pro-
cess, handling problems supercially, expecting everyone’s respect for the deci-
sions made, refraining from long-term analyses, overlooking social relations in
school, and not caring for others’ approval of the decisions made. is inclina-
tion parallels collective culture theory (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, ) in
which individualistic traits are considered to be socially unt and somewhat
selsh. e inuence of managers’ national culture on their decision-making
styles is also revealed by Podrug () and Yang (). A steep hierarchy and
a bulky bureaucracy are the dominant/descriptive features of the Turkish edu-
cation system at all levels of operation. e participating principals’ orienta-
tion towards carrying out extensive and careful evaluations and appealing to
thorough data collection processes may be partly related to these political fac-
tors and their adherence to making correct decisions. In fact, the reason for
participants’ adhering to a “behavioural” style could be explained by political-
inuence orientation and environmental factors.
Decision-making behaviour is mainly aected by contextual factors
such as the level of uncertainty, ever-changing dynamic environments, and
competing goals and values (Alenjung & Persson, ). Naturally, decisions
made at times of organisational change require special attention, as the envi-
ronment can be rather turbulent and is characterised by uncertainty. A close
examination of the ndings suggests that the decision-making style of Turk-
ish principals is partly consistent with that of other international counterparts.
For instance, Bayburin, Bycik, Filinov, Isaeva and Kasprzhak () report that
some Russian school principals, albeit a minority in the sample, used a con-
ceptual style and became good candidates of reform agents. However, the con-
ceptual style was the least preferred decision-making style in the present study.
According to Rowe and Boulgarides (), individuals may have one or more
dominant styles with one or more substitute styles. Although a behavioural
our nal | Vol.10 | No2 | Year 2020
decision-making style was the most preferred style, it can be asserted that
Turkish school principals use other styles when needed. e second most pre-
ferred style (i.e., analytical) could imply that Turkish school principals have a
high tolerance for ambiguity in terms of decision-making, which is worthy of
further consideration during the change process. Jordanian school principals,
on the other hand, mainly use a directive decision-making style (Al-Omari,
), while Indian managers were observed to tend towards an analytical style
(Misra & Srivastava, ). Based on the average Z values, it can be concluded
that Turkish school principals, in this case, favoured people-oriented decisions
involving low cognitive complexity. A broader categorisation of the analysis
of the top six statements indicates that ethical concerns, organisational values,
conducting extensive evaluations prior to decisions, adherence to data-driven
decision-making, and innovative problem-solving are the strategies that the
school principals agreed upon.
Based on the ndings of the research, it can be suggested that, in times
of change, principals tend to make decisions taking humanitarian and social
aspects into consideration more than technical aspects. Considering humani-
tarian aspects such as human relations may help the change process to be more
value-laden. Accordingly, taking the technical aspects into consideration may
both help the change succeed and serve as a catalyst for running the change
process smoothly. e results of this study are somewhat consistent with those
of Schechter and Shaked (), who found that school principals tended to
care about teachers’ attitudes and abilities, and to take into consideration the
characteristics and circumstances of their schools, while also employing their
practical wisdom when necessary during educational reform initiatives. Deci-
sion-making has the potential to inuence an organisation’s performance and
reputation, as well as its members’ welfare and security (George & Dane, );
therefore, considering both humanitarian and technical aspects carefully may
benet both the organisation and its members.
Drawing on the results of the study, we propose that, rather than imple-
menting socially approvable and bureaucratically t decisions, principals must
think about making and implementing decisions promoting and institution-
alising change that address the needs of the organisation during the change
process, in terms of both tasks and people; this can help sta to achieve better
results in the long run. Since the operational conditions of schools and prin-
cipals in turbulent times (i.e., during organisational change) dier markedly
across dierent cultures, principals oen need to adapt context-relevant deci-
sions and ponder contingent situations such as change during the process of
- ’ - ...
Inter alia, the present study is signicant in that it contributes to the
existing knowledge base by providing an insight into the prole of school prin-
cipals’ decision-making strategies during the change process. Further research
should be conducted with larger samples using dierent methods and tech-
niques in order to gain more ne-grained evidence regarding school principals’
decision-making proles at times of change in schools. New evidence regard-
ing their decision-making proles may help enhance the quality of decisions
made during organisational change initiatives and encourage the consideration
of signicant variables while making decisions.
Although the Q-methodology was employed, the analysed data were
collected through participants’ verbal and written explanations; no direct
observations were made by the researchers at the time of the actual decision-
making practices of the principals. is may be one of the limitations in the
study, as the participants’ explanations were assumed to be sincere and based
on realities. e ndings of the study should therefore be considered with this
limitation in mind.
An earlier version of this research was partly presented at “th Inter-
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M S S, PhD, is an associate professor of educatio-
nal administration at the Faculty of Education, Gaziantep University, Turkey.
His research interests include organizational change management and disrup-
tive innovation in education. He is currently engaged in search of building the
dynamics of the socio-cultural ecology of academic success.
M K, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department
for Primary Education, Gaziantep University, Turkey. He received his PhD. de-
gree in educational sciences. His research interests include school leadership,
professional development and learning, organizational behavior in education
and qualitative research.