Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Cindy Petersen, Ed.D.
Keith Larick, Ed.D.
Barbara Bartels, Ed.D.
Purpose. The purpose of this replication of a thematic, mixed-method case study was to identify and describe the behaviors that small business owner leaders use to create personal and organizational meaning for themselves and their followers through character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration.
Methodology. Qualitative interviews with exemplary small business owners were conducted to capture their insights on how they used behaviors associated with character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration to create personal and organizational meaning. In a quantitative survey, followers of each small business owner leader participants were asked to assess how important each of the variable behaviors were for a leader in creating personal and organizational meaning within their organization.
Findings. The study found the variables of character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration collectively contributed to the creation of personal and organizational meaning for small business owner leaders and their followers. Character and relationship were the top two domains used by exemplary leaders and perceived as most important by followers. The research found that establishing a co-created vision contributed to personal and organizational meaning. Exemplary leaders used a limited definition of wisdom and relied least on inspiration to creating personal and organizational meaning
Conclusions. This study concluded the interplay of the five domains of meaning; character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration create personal and organizational meaning for leaders and their followers. Leader character is highly valued by followers as is the active engagement of followers in co-creating a vision. Leaders and their followers experience deep and meaningful relationships within their organizations which contributes to personal and organizational meaning. Leaders have an opportunity to broaden their understanding of wisdom and inspiration as they create personal and organizational meaning.
Recommendations. Research replicating this study in the micro-business segment, with female small business owner leaders, and with small businesses with international locations was advised. In addition, a future study of character and managing unethical client requests in the small business environment and leader-follower relationships in small business was suggested.
Ohlhaver, Margaret S., "Meaning Makers: A Mixed-Method Case Study of Exemplary Small Business Owner Leaders and the Strategies they Use to Create Personal and Organizational Meaning" (2019). Dissertations. 250.