Perceptions of Succession Planning in Four Florida Districts: A Mixed-Method Study

Christopher M Parfitt


Through a mixed-method study, perceptions of succession planning were researched in four Florida school districts. The study was conducted in two phases. First, 99 participants responded to an online survey, which contained 44 items in five categories. Analysis indicated no statistically significant differences among independent variables. Respondents indicated input, development, and review of a succession plan were conducted infrequently, while opportunities for development and a clear list of the qualifications for administrative positions occurred frequently. Second, 11 individuals participated in an interview. Qualitative findings included five themes. Complete findings may be used by school districts to address succession-planning issues.


Baruch, Y., & Holtom, B. C. (2008). Survey response rate levels and trends in organizational research. Human Relations, 61(8), 1139-1160. doi:10.1177/0018726708094863

Beeson, J. (1998). Succession planning: Building the management corps. Business Horizons, 41(5), 61-66.

Beeson, J. (2000). Succession planning: Leading-edge practices: What the best companies are doing. Across the Board, 37(2), 38-41.

Beglinger, J. E. (2013). Designing tomorrow: Creative and effective succession planning. Journal of Nursing Administration, 43(10), 495-496. doi:10.1097/NNA.0b013e3182a3e85b

Bengtson, E., Zepeda, S. J., & Parylo, O. (2013). School systems practices of controlling socialization during principal succession: Looking through the lens of organization socialization theory. Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 41(2), 143-164. doi:10.1177/1741143212468344

Brittingham, S. L. (2009). Principal succession in a fast-growing district. School Administrator, 66(11), 22-23.

Cappelli, P., & Hamori, M. (2004). The path to the top: Changes in the attributes of corporate executives (Working Paper 10507). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Chavez, J. (2011). The case for succession planning. Strategic Finance, 92(8), 15-16.

Conger, J. A., & Fulmer, R. M. (2003). Developing your leadership pipeline. Harvard Business Review, 81(12), 76-84.

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Drago-Severson, E., & Aravena, J. L. (2011). The power of connectivity: Multilayered program grooms assistant principals’ leadership skills. Future leadership, 32(2), 50-53.

Durden, P. C., Izquierdo, J., & Williams, J. A. (2008). Out of the ashes: Building leadership and sustainability amid the chaos. AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, 5(3), 47-52.

Florida Department of Education. (2011). The Florida principal leadership standards. Retrieved from

Fullan, M. (2005). Sustainable leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Gentles, S. J., Charles, C., Ploeg, J., & McKibbon, K. (2015). Sampling in qualitative research: Insights from an overview of the methods literature. The Qualitative Report, 20(11), 1772-1789. Retrieved from

Gilbert, G. E., & Prion, S. (2016). Making sense of methods and measurement: Lawshe’s content validity index. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 12(12), 530-531. doi:10.1016/j.ecns.2016.08.002

Gothard, S., & Austin, M. J. (2013). Leadership succession planning: Implications for nonprofit human services organizations. Administration in Social Work, 37(3), 272-285. doi:10.1080/03643107.2012.684741

Griffith, M. B. (2012). Effective succession planning in nursing: A review of the literature. Journal of Nursing Management, 20(7), 900-911. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2834.2012.01418.x

Gurchiek, K. (2015, November 15). Don’t leave succession planning to chance. Alexandria, VA: Society for Human Resource Management. Retrieved from:

Hargreaves, A. (2005). Leadership succession. The Educational Forum, 69(2), 163-173. doi:10.1080/00131720508984680

Hausman, C., Nebeker, A., McCreary, J., & Donaldson, G. (2002). The worklife of the assistant principal. Journal of Educational Administration, 40(2/3), 136-157. doi:10.1108/09578230210421105

Hengel, R. I. (2007). Leadership capacity: Planning for leadership succession in schools (Master’s thesis). Available in ProQuest Dissertation and Theses Global Database. (UMI No. 304719536)

Ivankova, N. V., Creswell, J. W., & Stick, S. L. (2006). Using mixed-methods sequential explanatory design: From theory to practice. Field Methods, 18(1), 3-20. doi:10.1177/1525822X05282260

Lawshe, C. H. (1975). A quantitative approach to content validity. Personnel Psychology, 28, 563–575. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.1975.tb01393

Lee, L. C. (2015). School performance trajectories and the challenges for principal succession. Journal of Educational Administration, 53(2),262-286. doi:10.1108/JEA-12-2012-0139

Lewis, L. T. (2013). Capturing tacit knowledge through strategic succession planning: A phenomenological explication (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database. (UMI No. 3557881)

Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). School leadership that works: From research to results. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

McDonald, P. (2015, August 27). Few employees waiting in the wings: Survey suggests succession plans lacking at all levels. Menlo Park, CA: Robert Half Management Resources. Retrieved from:

Meyer, M. J., Macmillan, R. B., & Northfield, S. (2009). Principal succession and its impact on teacher morale. International Journal of Leadership in Education: Theory and Practice, 12(2), 171-185. doi:10.1080/13603120802449660

Neefe, D. O. (2009). Succession planning in a two-year technical college system (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database. (UMI No. 3360378)

Nulty, D. D. (2008). The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: What can be done? Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(3), 301-314. doi:10.1080/02602930701293231

Oleszewsku, A., Shoho, A., & Barnett, B. (2012). The development of assistant principals: A literature review. Journal of Educational Administration, 50(3), 264-286. doi:10.1108/09578231211223301

Owens, R. G., & Valesky, T. C. (2015). Organizational behavior in education: Leadership and school reform (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Parfitt, C. M. (2017). Perceptions of succession planning in educational organizations: A mixed-method study of four Florida school districts (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global Database. (UMI No. 10289333)

Riddick, F. P. (2009). What is your bench strength? An exploration of succession planning in three large school districts in a southeastern state (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global Database. (UMI No. 3395265)

Rintoul, H. M., & Goulais, L. (2010). Vice principalship and moral literacy: Developing a moral compass. Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 38(6), 745-757. doi:10.1177/1741143210379061

Rothwell, W. J. (2005). Effective succession planning: Ensuring leadership continuity and building talent from within (3rd ed.). New York, NY: AMACOM.

Santacrose, D. M. (2016). A mixed-methods study on the perceived role of novice assistant principals and the essence of their lived experience (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertation and Theses Global Database. (UMI No. 10246160)

Silverman, D. (2000). Analyzing talk and text. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed.) (pp. 821-834). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Smeltzer, C. H. (2002). Succession planning. Journal of Nursing Administration, 32(12), 615.

Stake, R. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Steele, F. G. (2015). Principal experiences of succession (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertation and Theses Global Database. (UMI No. 10012699)

Thomas, J. G. (2011). Exploring succession leadership training for continuity of leadership in selected K-12 school jurisdictions in Alberta (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertation and Theses Global Database. (UMI No. 3674163)

Torrance, H. (2012). Triangulation, respondent validation, and democratic participation in mixed methods research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 6(2), 111-123. doi:10.1177/1558689812437185

Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Zaich, L. L. (1986). Executive succession planning in select financial institutions (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertation and Theses Global Database. (UMI No. 8612669)

Zepeda, S. J., Bengtson, E., & Parylo, O. (2012). Examining the planning and management of principal succession. Journal of Educational Administration, 50(2), 136-158. doi:10.1108/09578231211210512

Full Text: XML


  • There are currently no refbacks.