DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

In this final chapter, the findings for each of the research questions are discussed and

conclusions and implications for practice are presented.

Purpose and Nature of the Study

The purpose of this dissertation was to study and describe a select group of dissertations

by profiling such dissertations. I created a Dissertation Profiling tool by updating and adapting a

framework used by Shrivastava and Gaik (1989). While the profiling approach used in

Shrivastava and Gaik’s study was useful as a benchmark for the present study, the final

Dissertation Profile as presented at appendix C was designed after reviewing the strategy

literature that was published since 1989. The final profile was populated with data from

dissertations (n=408) that were compiled using a more narrow scope than that used in the

Shrivastava and Gaik (1989) study. The dissertations of interest in the present study were from

the field of education in the United States. More specifically, the dissertations considered were

limited to those found in a search of the ProQuest Social Sciences Database and were further

limited to “Dissertations & Theses” found in the Proquest Education Journals using select

database search criteria.

The search criteria were date specific and term specific. The date range of interest started

with January 1, 2005 and ended with December 31, 2014. In answering two of the three research

questions, the 10-year period was broken down by considering four categories of variables from

time Period 1 (2004-2009) to time Period 2 (2010-2014). These two time periods were chosen

because of the expected change in the nature of strategy researched by doctoral students in

education programs from time Period 1 to Period 2. In addition to the time periods mentioned

above, the search terms of interest in this study are strategy and strategic. Such terms in

combination with the data range led to the identification of 408 dissertations that were subjected

to content analysis. A primary objective of this study was to classify each of the 408 dissertations

along the Nature of Strategy Research Continuum.

This continuum included practical and academic strategy research at opposite ends of the

continuum with a hybrid category in the middle. The hybrid category included strategy research

that contained both practical and academic aspects that were considered in any one dissertation.

For example, a researcher may study a school district that has a strategy (studying a strategy is an

example of practical strategy research) and that strategy is a leadership development program in

which principals are taught how to do strategic planning via on-the-job training. In this example,

the on-the-job training program is academic in nature but not purely academic because it is an

intra organizational training program that is part of a strategy to develop future leaders (Idaho,

2016). In an example of a purely academically-oriented study, a researcher would closely

examine a course of study in strategic planning in which the instructor utilized a simulation game

to learn strategic management (Loon, Evans, & Kerridge, 2015).

Distinguishing the types of strategy research and categorizing strategy research using the

Nature of Strategy Research Continuum allows for the study of changes in such research over

time and by nature. This ability is important for this study because education leadership

programs are expected to undergo changes in the second half of the first decade of the 21st

century (Levine, 2005) and because members of the CPED are committed to revising the EdD

(Hurst, 2014). Curricula changes are expected to reflect the need for education leaders to be

strategic leaders and the need for such leaders to think strategically (Darling-Hamond, Lapoint,

Meyerson, Orr, & Cohen, 2007; Glanz, 2006; Jasparo, 2006; Morrill, 2007; Williams & Johnson,

2013). Dissertations as culmination efforts of doctoral degrees in education programs are

expected to reflect current research in a field (Boote & Beile, 2005).

Major Findings and Implications

The creation of a Dissertation Profile was a primary goal of this study. Before answering

the research questions, it is useful to consider the most frequently occurring variables in this

study. These frequently occurring variables collectively serve to describe the collection of the

408 dissertations that were subjected to content analysis for this study. In Appendix D, the

variables that are specifically listed by name are those most frequently occurring. As indicated in

Appendix D, the dissertations tend to be produced from large institutions that were not members

of the CPED and tended to be written by students who sought doctoral degrees classified as

“other than PhD” (e.g., EdD). In addition, more than half of the dissertations were qualitative

research (57%). The subjects of the dissertations tended to be organizations at the Pre-k through

12 levels in the public sector. Finally, 91% of the dissertations were classified as practical

strategy research.

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