Workplace Stigma Toward Employees with Intellectual Disability: A Descriptive Study

Maureen E. Gormley, School of Human and Organizational Development

Individuals with intellectual disability (ID) have always been part of society but the ways in which they have been characterized and perceived has changed over time. A legacy of stigma remains towards these individuals despite decades of advocacy efforts aimed at promoting their social inclusion. This study explores workplace stigma, as assessed through coworker perceptions over time, toward transition-age youth (i.e., 18–22 years of age) with ID who entered a mainstream workforce through a formalized, school-to-work transition program. The conceptual framework that informs the study includes (a) transition-age youth with ID, (b) stigma, and (c) school-to-work transition. The study asked: In what ways do coworkers describe their perceptions over time of transition-age youth with ID hired in a coworkers’ unit within the context of a formalized, school-to-work transition program? This qualitative, descriptive design used thematic analysis to analyze data collected on 15 coworkers of individuals with ID from 14 organizations that had implemented the formalized, school-to-work transition program. The setting for the study was Project SEARCH, a school-to-work transition model that began at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in the mid-1990s. Study findings supported the framework that youth with ID face challenges as they seek employment in fully immersed work settings, including stigma—initial negative perceptions related to their capabilities and behaviors. Findings suggest that participants addressed and overcame negative perceptions where workplace concerns about anticipated performance and behavioral challenges shifted to positive contributions they reported the youth with ID made. In this instance, the school-to-work transition program played a major role in bringing about this shift. Eliciting coworker perceptions is an important part of the dialogue concerning the ways in which youth with ID are stigmatized as they transition from school to the world of employment.

KeyWords: school-to-work transition, stigma, intellectual disability, youth, coworker perceptions

The Experience of Family Caregivers Within the Acute Care Hospital Setting: An Institutional Ethnography

Petrina McGrath, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development

This thesis examines the experience of family caregivers when their family member is admitted to an acute care Canadian hospital. Family caregivers play a critical role in the Canadian health care system. In 2012, 28% of Canadians over the age of 15 were engaged in a caregiving role (Turcotte, 2013). Several studies have explored the interpersonal relationships between professionals and family caregivers, but few have expanded their understanding by exploring the social and organizational activities that intersect with this relationship. This study used Intuitional Ethnography (IE) to examine critically the acute care hospital experience from the standpoint of the family caregiver. Interviews made visible the work that family caregivers engage. This work included: a) support work, b) knowledge development work, c) knowledge exchange work, and d) advocacy work. Organizational and professional processes that intersect with family caregivers work surfaced and were traced to broader organizational discourses of hospital efficacy and professional knowledge as expert. Family caregivers are caught in a complex web where public policy views family caregivers as knowledgeable consumers who take on primary responsibility for the care of their family member at home, yet once they enter the acute care hospital setting, the discourse of professional knowledge as expert and managerial discourse of efficiency can situate the family caregiver in an environment of tension where their knowledge is not consistently elicited or utilized. This study will assist patient and family advocates to understand the broader organizational activities that influence the family caregiver experience and support health care professionals and administrators to understand the impact of broader policy and system activities on the family caregivers experience and patient family centered care strategies.

Key words: family caregiver, institutional ethnography, acute care hospital, discourse, patient family centered care

Gender Similarities and Differences Among a Sample of Jail Detainees

Katanya K. Goswell, Fielding's School of Psychology

Individual factors such as gender, age, prior mental health and substance abuse treatment, and rates of intoxication at the time of offense were examined among a sample of male and female adult detainees at a regional jail in the Southeastern United States. Additional factors investigated include current charges, alcohol or drug use at time of offense, and number of prior arrests. While large bodies of literature exist on crime, gender, and drug use, less is known about jail detainees across these and other variables such as prior treatment histories, current charges, or number of prior arrests. Detainees completed a self-report measure examining demographic, treatment history, and crime variables. Results showed that female detainees received significantly higher rates of prior mental health treatment than did male detainees but no differences were found in terms of prior substance abuse treatment history. There was a significant effect for having prior mental health treatment and a prior substance abuse treatment history on number of prior arrests. A significant relationship was found between being under the influence at the time of offense and having received prior substance abuse treatment. A significant association was also found between age and number of prior arrests suggesting that in this sample, as age increases, the number of prior arrests decreases. Limitations of the study as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.

Keywords: detainees, jail, gender, alcohol, substance abuse, intoxication, age, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment

An Exploration of the Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Position Within a Social and Organizational Network

Elizabeth Scott, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development

The conceptual framework supporting the argument that individuals need to be emotionally intelligent at work is not fully vetted. Little evidence has been found that emotional intelligence predicts behavioral outcomes. As a result this study explores whether there is a relationship between an individual’s emotional intelligence and the structural position he or she holds in his/her informal social or organizational network.

Specifically this study examines the dynamics of both informal social (friendship) network and instrumental organizational (advice) networks within the workplace while looking for evidence that emotional intelligence does impact one’s structural position in a network. While the hypotheses were not supported, the findings prompt interesting implications for social network scholar-practitioners interested in further researching the antecedents for network centrality. This study provides evidence that there is a relationship between demographic characteristics and network centrality, namely organizational tenure and organizational role. In addition to the social network theory implications, this study provides insights for practitioners who might be interested in supporting programs that enhance the emotional intelligence of individuals who are central to the network, who as a result may garner improved social capital.

Workplace Bullying, Cognitive Dissonance and Dissonance Reduction: Exploring the Alleged Perpetrator's Experience and Coping

Lisa DeSanti, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development

Workplace bullying is recognized as a global phenomenon and its impacts can be devastating. Much of what is known about this dynamic is largely the result of victim and bystander accounts. Missing from our understanding of workplace bullying is a vital perspective—that of the bully. Applying a phenomenological approach, this study captured the experience of those accused of workplace bullying, from the time of the accusation to the present day. The focus of this research was to assess to what extent those accused of workplace bullying experience cognitive dissonance and to examine the dissonance­­–reduction strategies employed: 14 alleged bullies provided responses to a qualitative online questionnaire and 1 participant also engaged in an interview. A thematic analysis of the responses indicated that participants tended to represent a self-centric and work-centric form of perspective taking; many also justified their behaviors as warranted for the work they were hired to perform. Most not only denied engaging in bullying behaviors, they interpreted the allegation as a form of punishment resulting in a range of distress, injury, and cognitive dissonance. Although participants indicated pursuing a variety of reduction strategies, it is especially interesting that despite the denial, most also sought out coaching, new skills, and/or self-development—along with the desire to pursue other career options. This suggests that participants did not intentionally bully others, and it also points to the enduring injury and dissonance related to the allegation as well as the limited effectiveness of cognitive dissonance reduction strategies. These findings offer new insights into the alleged perpetrator’s experience, challenge what we think we know about workplace bullying and the notion of intentionality, and present a unique application of the study of cognitive dissonance and dissonance reduction in the “real world” that can be used to further inform mitigations and interventions into workplace bullying.

Key Words: Workplace Bullying, Workplace Abuse, Hostile Work Environment, Mobbing, Cognitive Dissonance, Dissonance Reduction, Abrasive Leaders, Abusive Managers, Perpetrators

Blame Is Not a Game: Healthcare Leaders' Perceptions of Blame in the Workplace

Cheryl L. Mitchell, PhD, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development

This exploratory research increases knowledge and understanding of blame in the workplace. Attribution theory, moral philosophy, and social cognition provided a theoretical framework to understand individual blame determination as a precursor to understand systemic blame. Systemic blame is informed by complex systems theory and research on “no blame” cultures in a healthcare setting.

Interpretive description, supported by applied thematic analysis, provided the methodological framework for this qualitative study. The 17 senior leaders interviewed for this research study were selected through purposive sampling, and individually had an average 28 years of experience in healthcare. The semi-structured interviews were designed to gather experiences and stories that informed the participants’ perspectives on blame in the workplace.

Constant comparative thematic analysis of the data resulted in four main findings. First, blame is prevalent in the workplace. Second, blame begets blame through a vicious cycle of blame. In this cycle there is often unwarranted blame. Blame feels bad, which results in fear of blame and avoidance of blame. One way to avoid blame is to blame someone else. This positive reinforcing feedback loop of blame creates a culture of blame. Third, a culture of blame includes characteristics of risk aversion and mistrust. Risk aversion decreases innovation, and mistrust decreases transparent communication. Fourth, blame has an inverse relationship to accountability, where less blame may result in more accountability. These findings both confirm and contradict the current literature. The resulting conclusion is blame is not a game.

Using an Ability-Based Model of Emotional Intelligence to Predict Adjustment to Prison

Kimberly A. Coomes, PhD, CSW, Fielding's School of Psychology

This study explored the feasibility of using ability-based emotional intelligence, as measured by the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, Version 2.0 (MSCEIT v 2.0), to predict newly incarcerated inmates’ adjustment to prison, as measured by the Prison Adjustment Questionnaire (PAQ) and reported disciplinary events. The 200 participants were inmates in medium-security prisons who had been incarcerated for 9-24 months. An exploratory factor analysis of the PAQ and amended view of the nature of prison adjustment yielded the PAQ – Global Dimension Scale. While the main hypotheses were not supported, a number of previous findings were replicated. Consistent with previous research, the sample population had MSCEIT scores in the average range and younger inmates and those with more disciplinary reports had poorer adjustment. Education and relationship status, found predictive in other studies, were not related to adjustment in this study. One anomaly in the data was the well-adjusted nature of the sample, as seen in low scores on the PAQ and few disciplinary reports. Sampling methods may provide an explanation for this finding. Results are discussed in terms of implications for clinical work and improved methodology in future research.

Keywords: emotional intelligence, prison adjustment

Hope: One Prisoner's Emancipation

Alison Granger-Brown, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development

I would like to think that I chose this study to add to the literature on human development in the prison system. However, I would have to say that the study chose me. It became a deep discovery of what is required for human beings to grow within the context of a prison setting and afterwards in the community. The study explored the life history of an Aboriginal woman once considered to be a volatile, violent, and unmanageable female prisoner by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). Changing her life she became a valued volunteer within that prison system.

Human growth and development must be considered with attention to the exogenous influences of all the systems people have to negotiate. I walked with Lora for 14 years: 7 while in custody and 7 afterwards until her death in 2013. During that time she became a mother, a volunteer, peer researcher, cancer patient, and always a teacher.

Since the 1970s there has been a pervasive decline in recognizing rehabilitation potential in people with lives plagued by addictions and the crimes supporting them. I observed the opposite: hundreds of lives changed for the better. There are interventions that kindle the flame and support a fire in people to build a healthy, productive life. Society has a responsibility to fan that fire, rather than feeding the despondency and hopelessness so prevalent in our prisons.

Information was gathered from interviews with Lora, video and audio recordings, her journals and poetry. Interviews were also conducted with family to gain clarity of her childhood and complex trauma history and with people who walked with her after prison to elucidate her change process.

The study encompassed literature from modern, post-modern, and Aboriginal epistemology, integrating theory from multiple disciplines. What emerged was how powerful the deleterious influences of complex childhood trauma are, in all domains, over the life span. Counteracting this damage most significantly are the mechanisms of hope and the inspiration of believing in the possibility for successful and lasting change: This is the key-stone to the archway through which people re-enter the community from prison.

Key Words: hope, Aboriginal, transformational learning, resilience, desistance, complex trauma, prison, reintegration, rehabilitation, restorative justice, attachment

Building a Professional Relationship: A Classic Grounded Theory Study of the Experience of Teachers

Catherine Marie A. Villanueva, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership for Change

The purpose of this classic grounded theory study was to discover what teachers valued in their work environment as they engaged in working in a classroom. Using the grand tour question “Can you tell me about your experiences in teaching?” I interviewed 8 participants, using open-ended interviews. Data were analyzed using constant comparative analysis and led to the emergence of the theory of building professional relationships.

The theory of building professional relationships describes how teachers begin working with other stakeholders (clients, colleagues, supervisors, and mentors) in a school setting. Building professional relationships is a shared process between two or more people in which the parties involved form a purposeful relationship to help meet a need, achieve goals, or pursue an opportunity in the work environment. The steps of the process involve making and strengthening connections that mutually aid all parties in meeting their individual needs or goals. The stages of building professional relationships are (1) introduction stage, (2) interacting stage, and (3) results stage. Factors affecting building relationships include compatibility with the other person, having something in common, and specific quality factors, including the personality of the person, similar interests or skills, communication, trust, rapport, work environment, knowledge, and flexibility. Communication, beliefs, trust, expectations/goals, comforting, and respect affect the outcomes of building professional relationships. While people may initiate many professional relationships, not all connections will grow and develop into mutually beneficial relationships. Those that do not will be eliminated either by choice or by changing circumstances.

KEY WORDS: Grounded Theory, Professional Relationships, and Work Environment

Recovering Corporate Consumer Trust: A Study of Crisis Response Strategies and Repairing Damaged Trust

Rick T. Reed, Fielding's School of Psychology

In the past decade, even the most casual observer would agree that there has been a continual stream of corporate crises: product defects and recalls, insider trading, corporate malfeasance, mortgage fraud, and other wrong-doing that has led to global financial crises. There is a corresponding need for corporate crisis managers to develop a set of communication tools that will ensure consumers that a corporation is taking appropriate action in response to crises with the consumers’ best interest in mind. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of post-crisis communication strategies delivered via both “traditional” online news sites and online social media in rebuilding lost brand trust as a result of a corporate product crisis. This research compared the effectiveness of post-crisis communication via traditional online news sources versus online social media sites. This study ultimately aimed to provide practical guidance for crisis managers about which online media channel is most effective at communicating post-crisis messages, and what type of post-crisis strategies most effectively recover lost or damaged consumer brand trust following a corporate product crisis to affect positive social change in the form of increased/recovered trust. To achieve this aim, this study examined the psychological impact of messages developed in the wake of a corporate product crisis delivered through two types of online media. This research measured and described the relationship between, and the positive impact of, post-crisis communication media (both online traditional and online social), and consumer behavior as manifested in levels of trust regained. This study investigated the brand trust levels of 458 consumers in response to a variety of crisis response communications following a hypothetical product crisis presented through two simulated media channels: (a) traditional online media (e.g., website) and (b) online social media (e.g., a post about the crisis viewed on a friend’s Facebook News Feed).

The results of this study are that two of the four hypotheses tested were rejected. The main findings of this study include (a) product crises have a negative impact on consumer brand trust; (b) there is a significant relationship between accommodative and blended crisis response strategies and increased levels of post-crisis recovered brand trust, and (c) there was no significant effect of media channel, age, education, nor gender on the amount of brand trust damaged nor recovered through the current research scenario.

Keywords: social media, traditional media, trust, crisis communication, media psychology, attention, attitude change, persuasion, brand trust, order effects, message sequencing, action, rebuilding trust, corporate crisis management, corporate reputation management, decision making, corporate crisis response strategy, trust response, recovering brand trust

Student Success: A Qualitative Modeling Approach to Student Success at a Rural Community College

Darren Thomas Pitcher, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership for Change

The purpose of this research was to increase student success at a small comprehensive community college in eastern Montana, herein referred to by the pseudonym Rural Community College (RCC). The study was designed to empower college administrators, faculty, and staff to foster student success by adding strategies for success via a local student success model (LSSM) to the range of best practices currently in place at RCC, such as mandatory student orientation, mandatory placement, and no late registration. The LSSM is based on student, faculty, and administrator perspectives of student success and perceived barriers to student success specific to RCC. Data supporting those perspectives were collected through a series of student focus groups and a survey completed by faculty and the college president. This qualitative study applied Padilla’s theoretical framework and associated concept modeling approach to examine perceived elements of student success as described by successful community college students at RCC. Padilla’s theoretical framework and concept modeling approach to analysis of data is known as student success research because it focuses on how students succeed, as opposed to student departure research, which focuses on why students fail. Student departure research (e.g., Tinto, Pascarella, Rendon, and Roueche) has not improved completion rates of students at community colleges to a satisfactory level. Due to the continued poor rate of student completion, combined with the national dependence on community colleges to produce graduates prepared to enter the nation’s workforce, community colleges must identify and institute comprehensive student success models. Successive studies using Padilla’s theoretical framework have created LSSMs for urban and multicampus community colleges, high-minority-serving high schools, and Hispanic-serving universities. However, those studies used criteria that limited participation for many types of students. The goal of this study was to determine whether Padilla’s local student success modeling approach is applicable to a rural community college environment, incorporating various types of community college students who were excluded from previous studies. It was concluded that students at RCC exhibited a high level of persistence, a strong work ethic, and effective time management skills.  

Key Words: Community College, student success, barriers to success, institutional barriers, academic achievement, developmental studies programs, college preparation, 2-year college students, completion agenda, performance-based funding, remedial instruction, remedial programs, academic persistence, rural, student placement, college students, achievement gap, supplementary education, digital divide, retention, student success initiatives


Challenging the Silences: A Phenomenographic Study of How Autoethnography is Experienced

Liz Burke, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership for Change
Autoethnography is an emerging field that continues to be contested as a methodological approach with a vast amount of literature articulating distinct autoethnographic techniques, methods, and theories. Some view autoethnography as necessarily addressing underrepresented voices, whereas some encourage an evocative, emotional and literary approach that aims to blur the lines between the literary arts and social/behavioral research. Others, still, argue for an autoethnographic approach that follows similar methods in social/behavioral research.

Variations in approach also include interpretive, critical, organizational, performance, and post-colonial approaches. The numerous and sometimes contradictory theories illustrate the many assumptions that scholars make about the experiences and conceptions of autoethnographers. Some understand the experience as being therapeutic, transcendent of the self and the social, and emotionally healing for both the writer and reader.

Autoethnography is also theorized as being motivated by a social justice agenda that challenges traditional notions of what constitutes legitimate knowledge, research, and voice.  This dissertation offers a phenomenographic perspective on autoethnography, shedding light on the various ways that students experienced it in their dissertation work.  Four major categories were found in the data: a) personal growth, which reflected participant experiences of personal development that included increased self-awareness, self-acceptance, confidence building, different worldview, and educational process; b) emotional process, which reflected participant experiences of a variety of emotional realities and processes including painful or difficult emotions, joyful or fun emotions, feelings of liberation, therapeutic or healing experiences, and feelings of vulnerability; c) social connectedness, which reflected participant responses related to experiences of the self in relation to others that included social responsibility, increased sense of belonging or connection, and considerations regarding their positioning in the academy; and d) transpersonal experience which reflected participant descriptions of qualities beyond the person’s control and contributed to their sense of wholeness and spiritual growth.

Findings also suggested that participants associated the assertion of voice with notions of authenticity and truth telling; challenging traditional ways of doing research, or “academic imperialism;” and relational ethics.  Autoethnography facilitated personal growth, greater self-awareness, greater awareness of contexts and systems in which one participates, and provided a meaningful educational experience for participants. This study, further, suggests that concerns regarding positioning in the academy are very much present and informed by the academy’s continued privileging of traditional approaches of conducting research.

Sexual Behavior and Quality of Life in Persons with Schizophrenia in an Outpatient Population

Denise Marie Stephens, Fielding's School of Psychology

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between sexual behavior and quality of life (QOL) within a sample of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Subjects were recruited from mental health clinics in Southern California.  They include 102 male and female outpatients between 18 and 65 years of age with a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia, which was confirmed through review of medical records.  Demographic variables including gender, ethnicity, sexual behavior, and QOL were assessed. The Arizona Sexual Experiences Scale Total Score (ASEX) and the Changes in Sexual Functioning Questionnaire-14 Total Score (CSFQ-14) were used to predict QOL, represented by the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire-Short Form Total Score (Q-LES-Q-SF).  Multiple regression analysis examined the three hypotheses.  Sexual behavior was found to have a predictive effect on the QOL in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Limitations that may have influenced the findings include the use of self-report measures and the issue of sexual behavior being a sensitive and personal subject matter for individuals to report.  Implications and recommendations for future research are identified to further examine the needs of the targeted population.

Keywords: Schizophrenia, Sexual Behavior, Quality of Life

The Influence of Religion on Bullying Behaviors

Jolyn JB DePriest, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

The purpose of this research is to explore the role of religion in the discrimination and bullying of LGBT individuals and their lived experiences. Bullying behaviors have escalated in schools, workplaces, and houses of worship, particularly against members of the LGBT community. Suicides among victims of bullying have become commonplace. Programs and projects to explore the religious influence are scarce or ignored. The foundation of this research was based on a grounded theory design through semi-structured qualitative interviews. A total of 26 LGBT individuals, 13 males and 13 females, shared their perspective on the place religion holds in their lives relating to struggles and experiences. The participants experienced bullying directly and indirectly as a result of religious beliefs and its’ influence in the workplace, family, place of worship, and school setting. They shared the culminating life decisions made to compensate for the lived experience of isolation, and judgment stemming from their sexual orientation. The data revealed a connection between religious doctrines fueling discrimination sanctioning bullying behavior and LGBT dissociation to organized religion and association with spirituality.

Key Words: bullying, bullycide, rankism, religion, LGBT.

Intersecting Identities of Individuals in the Workplace: A Phenomenological Study of the Lived Experiences

Annette John-Baptiste, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

Diversity literature has often neglected analysis of how individuals with intersecting identities experience work omitting within-group differences in their diversity and inclusion efforts. This study begins to document the paradoxical experiences of people of color with multiple intersecting identities in the workplace. All seven participants were white-collar professionals possessing a salient feature or characteristic that set them apart from the dominant White male group and had membership in at least one subordinate historically marginalized or stigmatized social identity group. This qualitative phenomenological study employed the intersectionality framework to gain insight into the experiences of participants’ intersecting identities in the workplace. Four themes emerged: microaggressions, emotions, coping mechanisms, and unequal access. Coping mechanism encompassing assimilation, suppression of social identity categories, and safe spaces as subsections, manifested as the central reason particpants felt partially included.

Results provide insight into within-group diversity of intersecting identities based on race/ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation and the paradoxical experience of being marginalized and having privilege.  Moreover shared experiences across social identity groups revealed new findings of similar experiences among Black gay men and Black women being hypersexualized and experiences around the “glass ceiling” phenomenon being much lower than previously noted in White women.  Additionally, insights about the dichotomies around being bilingual were uncovered identifying another gap in literature.

By excavating the unique voices of participants situated at the intersections of multiple social identities, their realities were illuminated. Because intersectionality investigates the simultaneous experiences of multiple intersecting identities and how power is maintained and recreated in the workplace it can uncover many of the inequalities among men and women that must be dealt with and have yet to be discovered.

Key Words: multiple identities, intersectionality, microaggressions, inclusion, diversity

The Adult Child's Lived Experience In a Difficult Offspring-Parent Relationship

Katty Coffron, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This study examines the experiences of 12 adult children who have a difficult relationship with their parent. To be included in the study, relationship difficulties were required to be described as long-term, substantial, and intractable. This study adds to the adult attachment literature related to respect to sub-optimal attachment between mid-life adult children and their parents.

Solidarity, ambivalence, and attachment theoretical perspectives informed this study. Participants were asked to discuss how they perceive and experience the difficulties in the adulthood relationship with their parent, the choices they have made with respect to closeness and distance in the relationship, and how at peace they are with their choices in the relationship.

The researcher used semi-structured interview techniques, and the transcript analysis was performed with a primary goal of ensuring that the findings stayed close to the participants’ words. Thematic analysis techniques were used to identify themes across participant interviews.

With respect to difficulties, participants spoke about (a) specific difficult parental behaviors (critical/overbearing, rejecting, emotionally labile, and emotionally unavailable); (b) unmet attachment needs; (c) attachment injuries; and (d) co-creation of problems. With respect to coping, participants spoke about (a) attempting to talk to the parent about difficulties; (b) using physical and emotional distance to cope; and (c) learning to accept the self and the parent.

Findings provide strong evidence that most participants remained attached to their parent in adulthood, despite the difficult relationship. Clinical implications and opportunities for future research are offered.