Because administration is the process of making decisions and because values are an important part of administrative culture, values are important in administrative work. The value orientations of American public school superintendents are described. Interviews with 15 Midwestern superintendents provided the data for the study. Responses to explicit questions about values are reported regarding the qualities valued in subordinates, the factors that have limited professional success, and criteria used to determine successful problem resolution. Superintendents were also asked to describe the most serious problems they had faced in their careers and their greatest achievements. Analysis of the data indicated that superintendents as a group valued human skills over either technical or conceptual skills. Though superintendents said that they value individual discretion among subordinates, they see it as a limited and qualified opportunity. Those interviewed demonstrated a selective management memory, finding it easier to describe their past accomplishments than serious problems they had encountered during their careers. In general, they did not focus on limitations, problems or failures. Most of those interviewed showed little inclination to retrospective analysis of administrative actions, contrary to contemporary calls for more reflective practitioners.
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