An autoethnographic account of a leader's transformation through organization expansion

Charlene Marie Reid, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation is an autoethnographic account of the processes and transformation undergone by a school leader to expand an educational organization into a new geographical region. The account operates on multiple levels to uncover the political, social, and racial obstacles that arise while securing support for and opening a charter school. By utilizing autoethnography and grounded theory, I expose the numerous external factors that complicate the process and shape my decision-making. In this account, these external factors are the pre-existing political and social factions that challenge the opening of the charter school. Opening the school required acknowledging existing power structures and understanding the status of stakeholders and how the structures pose challenges for the charter school. In many cases, a proactive, rather than reactive, strategy became essential to address challenges that were manifested in personal attacks. A major finding of the dissertation is that the challenges, though they appear on their faces to mirror standard anti-charter rhetoric, have at their base the history of race, class, and political positioning that are unique to a particular region. Contextualizing challenges within a specific region and within a unique situation revealed the implausibility of replication as a goal for charter school operators. This revelation transformed my belief system, while simultaneously clarifying the salience of adaptive versus technical procedures related to decision-making and leading in unknown territory.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|School administration

Recommended Citation

Reid, Charlene Marie, "An autoethnographic account of a leader's transformation through organization expansion" (2016). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI10188792.