Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Kent Seidel, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kimberly Hartnett-Edwards

Third Advisor

Carol Eaton


Educational leadership, K-12 education, Motivation-hygiene theory, Principal shortage, School principals


The national principal shortage caused by the competing factors of an aging workforce, along with recent changes to the role expectations of the principalship making the position less desirable to potential candidates have been well documented in recent years. Effective schools research shows that principals are second only to classroom teachers in having a positive impact on student achievement. Traditionally, new principals come from the ranks of current teachers. This study explores the motivating and inhibiting factors that educators consider when deciding to pursue the principalship.

A web-based survey was administered to teachers in a large school district with urban, suburban, and rural schools and 196 responses were analyzed. The data from this study suggest the primary motivating factors to pursue the principalship are; the desire to make a positive difference for others, the ability to influence or improve a school, instructional leadership, the ability to initiate change, professional challenge, higher salary, developing and implementing a vision for school improvement, the desire to be a leader, personal challenge, and job opportunities for the future or movement along a career path. The primary inhibiting factors are; the amount of stress, the politics of the position, working with parents in negative or contentious situations, bureaucracy, the impact on family life or family responsibilities, the distance from the classroom or student contacts, the length of the work day, the length of the work week, accountability for student achievement, and the amount of responsibility. These results are consistent with Hertzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory, which states that motivating factors are primarily intrinsic and inhibiting factors are primarily extrinsic. Additionally, this study showed relationships between other factors and motivation to pursue the principalship. Specifically, encouragement by others, participation in a leadership role, and possession of a principal's license were all linked to increased interest in the principalship. Finally, recommendations are offered to districts and higher education regarding ways that they can mitigate or address the factors surrounding the principal shortage.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

William Morton


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

209 p.


Educational leadership, Educational administration