This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Relationship Between Perceived Teacher Empowerment and Principal use of Power




Lintner, Jackie

Type of Degree



Educational Foundations
Leadership and Technology


This study addresses the relationship between perceived teacher empowerment and principal use of power. The continual cycle of education reform movements suggest that there is a need for principals to evaluate and re-define their leadership roles on a continuous basis. The expanded expectations and responsibilities placed on schools have seemingly created a need for school leadership to be shared or distributed among teachers and principals. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between perceived teacher empowerment and principal use of power. The study sought to identify the power bases teachers perceived their principals as operating from. It also sought to identify teachers’ perceived levels of empowerment and possible hindrances and facilitators to vi their empowerment. The six attributes of teacher empowerment are decision-making, professional growth, status, self-efficacy, autonomy, and teacher impact. The five power bases are reward, coercive, legitimate, referent, and expert. Three school districts in Alabama participated in this study. Three types of data were collected. First, the Rahim Leader Power Inventory was used measure teachers’ perceptions of the type of power base used by principals. Second, the School Participant Empowerment Scale was used to measure teachers’ perceptions of their level of empowerment. Third, answers to open-ended questions were used to identify hindrances and facilitating factors of teacher empowerment not addressed on the School Participant Empowerment Scale and the Rahim Leader Power Inventory. The data suggest that most teachers from the participating counties perceive their principals as operating from a legitimate power base. Many teachers reported perceiving that their principals did not operate from a reward power base. Of the six subscales of teacher empowerment, it appears that the principal use of expert power and referent power have the highest relationship with teacher empowerment. Coercive and reward power bases are the least likely power bases to have significant impact on teacher empowerment. Themes that emerged from teacher feedback about empowerment were poor quality of administrative staff, standards, lack of communication, societal issues, and non-teaching duties. Teachers offered many insightful comments about how they view principal use of power. However, there were no themes that surfaced from their responses.