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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Mary Lynn Boscardin

Second Advisor

Craig S. Wells

Third Advisor

Robert D. Marx

Subject Categories

Educational Leadership | Special Education and Teaching


The primary purpose of this study was to analyze the relationships that existed between the district-level special education leadership team and two elementary schools. The study used social network analysis (SNA) as the primary methodological and analytic approach to reveal the structural dimensions of the advice giving/receiving networks within the schools to delve more deeply into network relationships, collaboration, and knowledge impact. By mapping the existing network relationships through the lens of network centralization, reciprocity, and density, the study sought to analyze what, if any, link existed between the network properties and the extent to which leadership was distributed. The study also examined the extent to which advice giving/receiving affected the knowledge of staff members and whether a relationship could be seen between network properties and school performance, albeit indirectly. Moderate findings were present between network properties and diffusion of special education knowledge, the type of advice being given/received, and the effect advice giving/receiving had on the knowledge base of staff members. An indirect relationship was also found between network properties and school performance. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications for professional practice and future research on distributed leadership particularly from a social network and diffusion of knowledge perspective.