Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Thomas L. Fish

Second Advisor

Eleni Roulis

Third Advisor

David W. Peterson


This qualitative study examines the experiences of eight elementary principals from the Midwest who were involved in dual-career relationships with children under the age of 18. The primary data collection method was in-depth interviews. The data were coded and analyzed according to the research questions. The research resulted in three major themes which emerged out of the experiences shared by the elementary principals: 1) there exists a gap between actual and perceived values; 2) stress develops from a high number of work tasks; 3) coping strategies are utilized to manage daily stressors. I analyzed these themes from the principals’ experiences through the theoretical lenses of theory-in-use and espoused theory, symbolic interactionism, cultural hegemony, and authentic leadership. The experiences associated with the elementary principals in this study serve as a framework for discussion about the gap that exists between principals’ actual and perceived values.

This research revealed a gap between elementary principals’ actual and perceived values. A conclusion to be drawn from this finding is that principals involved in dual-career relationships are unable to recognize the gap between their actual and perceived values due to a strong commitment toward both their profession and families. A high number of time intensive work-related tasks contribute to increased stress and an imbalance between work and home roles. The gap is held apart by the perception of the immediacy of work task completion in comparison to the perception of less immediate family needs.

Recommendations are offered for elementary principals, district level administrators, and for further research possibilities. Given that there are a variety of factors that affect the gap between actual and perceived values, the proposed recommendations should be considered carefully on an individual basis.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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