To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Social capital, power, school-based decision making, and the teaching assignment process

Daina S. Lieberman (The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Jennifer K. Clayton (Educational Leadership, The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)

Journal of Professional Capital and Community

ISSN: 2056-9548

Article publication date: 26 September 2018

Issue publication date: 4 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to investigate power and its influence on the teaching assignment process and school-based decision making.


Qualitative interpretive design and thematic analysis were used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with teachers and administrators.


Both teachers and administrators discussed power and social capital as components of the teaching assignment process. Teachers viewed the origins of their social capital differently than administrators and felt social capital was evident in school-based decision making and the teaching assignment process.

Research limitations/implications

Participants were demographically rather homogeneous. Further studies with a diverse sample could examine race and gender as factors in the teaching assignment process.

Practical implications

This study demonstrates a need for administrators to examine how they consider social capital when distributing teaching assignments and involving teachers in school-based decision making. Administrators’ actions may result in teacher tracking, disadvantaging marginalized and at-risk student populations.

Social implications

There is a clear disconnect between administrator and teacher understanding of the purpose and practice of teaching assignment distribution. Administrators were unaware of their own power, how they wielded it, and the effect it had on teachers.


Few studies have examined teacher–administrator power relations or the teaching assignment process at the secondary level. This study connects the teaching assignment process to social capital and power.



Lieberman, D.S. and Clayton, J.K. (2018), "Social capital, power, school-based decision making, and the teaching assignment process", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 321-340.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles