Date of Award



© 2020 Richard Webster

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Brianna Parsons

Second Advisor

Cynthia Kennedy

Third Advisor

Ruth McLellan


The purpose of this study was to describe and explain the phenomena of international school leadership and school climate and culture. It proposed to identify key leadership strategies and techniques that can be implemented to initiate change which will foster a positive school culture and climate. The theoretical framework that shaped this study was the Five Dimensions of School Climate as described by Thapa, Cohen, Guffey, and Higgins-D’ Alessandro (2013). This study used a Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology to explore the lived experiences of leaders of international schools in south-east Asia in relation to school culture and climate. Through semi-structured interviews with eight participants the key leadership styles and techniques that foster a positive school culture and climate were identified along with the specific challenges that leaders in this setting face. It was found that relationships are integral to the fostering of a positive school culture and climate. This could be the relationships that leaders have with each other and the relationships that they have with all stakeholders in a school, such as staff, students and parents. Positive relationships can be built from the specific practices of having an open-door policy and through a leader’s recruitment and human resources practices. Leaders should also measure the existing culture, model the expected culture and communicate it across a school. Further, leaders should provide professional development for staff since it plays an important role in fostering a positive school culture. The specific challenges that leaders in this setting face were the cultural diversity that exists in the make-up of an international school, the expectations from parents and the ones that staff place upon themselves, retaining staff and recruiting new staff. It is therefore recommended that any data that is collected on the existing culture and climate should be used to grow and develop the culture and climate. Further, it is recommended that the specific leadership practices that were identified are used in conjunction with one another. Lastly, it is recommended that professional development is used to invest and develop people in order to foster a positive school culture and climate.


Ed.D. Dissertation