The role of entrepreneurship and innovation in K-12 education continues to evolve. As more reform efforts come and go, it is clear that little has changed despite billions of dollars invested in these efforts. Education leaders are being asked to leverage entrepreneurial and innovative solutions to transform the K-12 education environment to meet the needs of a modern society and workplace. Consequently, there is an urgent need to expand the boundaries of possibilities for improving public education. Identifying the essential practices of executive education leaders is of particular importance to K-12 education which is under increasing pressure to provide better equity of resources, do more with less, close the student achievement gap, and prepare students for a future where most jobs have yet to be defined. To meet this challenge, executive education leaders must leverage and implement key entrepreneurial and innovation practices. The purpose of the study was to identify and understand the practices of executive level leaders in California County Offices of Education. The study was designed using the Delphi method approach of identification, shared evaluation, re-evaluation, and finally consensus among the executives to identify the essential entrepreneurial and innovation practices of education leaders. At the conclusion of the process, 15 executives identified 13 opportunity recognition, leadership, and staff practices they believe to be essential to support entrepreneurship and innovation in education. The 2 opportunity recognition skills were: (a) collaboration, (b) future-focus. The 8 leadership practices were: (a) articulate vision, (b) promote healthy organization culture, (c) flexibility, (d) life-long learning, (e) relationship building, (f) actively seek opportunities, (g) decisive. The 3 staff practices were: (a) trust, (b) flexibility, (c) drive. A key finding of the study was the identification of 3 overarching practices spanning opportunity recognition, leadership, and staff: (a) collaboration, (b) flexibility, and (c) future-focused. The essential practices identified in this study assist leaders in strengthening and transforming education organizations. By focusing on the identified essential practices, leaders are able to meet the challenges and complexity evident in today’s K-12 education environment, and create organizations where entrepreneurship and innovation can thrive in support of student learning.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Entrepreneurship; School administrators -- California -- Research; School management and organization -- California -- Research

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Rhodes, Kent;