The central purpose of this research is to understand the nature of culture in Australian Anglican Secondary schools and determine whether they share any commonalities in their organisational culture. The study is situated in the theoretical framework of organisational culture and uses the qualitative methodology of Grounded Theory to derive meanings from empirical data and to generate theory in an under-researched area. This research has concentrated on staff perceptions and experience of school culture with a special focus on the religious dimension. The major research tool was in-depth interviews of over seventy practitioners in three case study schools. Additional standard methods of data collection were also used to strengthen validity.
The design of the project incorporates the diversity within the Anglican Church. Case studies occurred in schools in three different Anglican dioceses in three different cities and states. The churchmanship in each school represented different strands within Anglicanism. A breadth of educational variables was also represented: one school was long-established, two more recent; one was single-sex, two were co-educational; two were totally independent, one was part of a school system. Theoretical sensitivity was heightened through incorporation of historical and sociological writings on Anglicanism which helped interpret the emerging theory.
The theory developed progressively using the Grounded Theory principle of constant comparison. This was applied both within sites and across sites. On the first level of conceptualisation, the culture in each individual site was analysed and described. On the second level, common themes relevant to understanding the religious factor were identified across all sites. Initially five conceptual categories for generic Anglican school culture were identified. These were later refined to two controlling ones, those of Tension and Anglicanism. These were shown to inter-relate with three subsidiary categories: Perceptions, Independent Schooling and Leadership. A theory is proposed that organizational culture in Anglican schools is typically characterised by a range of tensions relating to their dual educational and religious roles, and to differing social and spiritual interpretations of Christian faith.