Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Second Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Third Advisor

Dr. Wafa Hassan


Principal authorities, decentralization, school system, Saudi Arabia, leadership, administration


In 2011, the Saudi Ministry of Education (MOE) conferred 21 new authorities in addition to the previous 31 to their school principals. A main goal in conferring these authorities was to facilitate decentralization of Saudi school districts. To further facilitate decentralization, 900 schools were selected as Tatweer schools. Tatweer, also known as the King Abdullah Public Education Development Project, is a pilot program designed to match Saudi standards of education to that of other nations. To date, few studies have explored principals’ perceptions of the new authorities. A review of literature revealed just three studies on the topic (see Allheani, 2012; Alhumaidhi, 2013; Alotaibi, 2013). The purpose of this study was to examine Tatweer school principals’ perceptions of the new administrative and technical authorities granted to them in the initial steps of decentralization. Specifically, this study explored: (a) the extent to which principals perceive they have the ability to implement the new authorities, (b) the level of support they perceive in implementing the new authorities, (c) their beliefs on the effectiveness of the new authorities at achieving MOE outcomes, and (d) additions they would like to their current authorities.

A total of 173 Tatweer school principals completed the online survey developed for this study. Overall, findings suggest Saudi principals perceived they have limited ability and low to moderate support in implementing the new authorities. Furthermore participants only slightly agreed that the authorities were likely to achieve MOE outcomes. Multiple regression analysis revealed that beliefs on the effectiveness of the authorities at achieving MOE outcomes were predicted by perceived ability to implement administrative authorities, perceived support to implement technical authorities, and years of experience. Analysis of an open-ended question revealed suggestions for new authorities in five categories: (a) staff issues, (b) school budget, (c) power in decision-making, (d) operational issues, and (e) other. Based on these findings, it can be concluded that continued changes in Saudi Arabia’s educational structure are required as it relates to improving principals’ perceptions of their ability and support to implement the MOE’s new authorities. Recommendations are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access