How effective school superintendents conceptualize balance among personal, family and professional life
Klatt, Roger J.
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Empirical studies indicate work-family balance issues as one of the primary reasons why promising principals and central office administrators do not aspire to the superintendency (Volp et al., 2004; O'Connell & Brown, 2001). The literature identifies the concern about work-family balance, but does not offer contextualized understandings or possible solutions. Studies that have attempted to address work-family balance/conflict in the superintendency are shallow in depth and offer only generalities (Gilmour & Kinsella, 2008; Carter & Cunningham, 1997). In-depth case study research was used to collect and analyze data on seated superintendents whose life conditions match three of the hesitancy factors (NYSCOSS, 2006) associated with the next generation of school superintendents: having school aged children, spousal considerations, enjoyment (quality of life) factors. Two superintendents and their family members were interviewed. Findings show the extent to which the job of school superintendent impacts on the personal, family and social life of each case study participant. Findings also show these impacts transcend the family unit, are particular to the rural context, and transcend the spectrum of involvement and sincerity of interactions. Strategies to achieve greater balance in this highly demanding job are also presented. Two conceptualizations of balance emerge from the data; an integrated view (superintendency as lifestyle) and a compartmentalized view (equal time devoted to each life role). The "superintendency as lifestyle" perspective appears to be more compatible with the next generation of school leadership (Generation X). Additionally, this study may provide the impetus for professional affiliated organizations to create study opportunities for aspiring superintendents exploring the concept and facets of work-family balance.