Thursday, March 28, 2013

Laura L. Hauser's dissertation on, "Shape-Shifting: A Conceptual Framework for Coaching Work Teams"

Laura L. Hauser, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This study explored a relatively unexamined but emerging issue in practice and research: coaching work teams conducted by an external coach. It examined the role behaviors of external coaches and the influencers of those role behaviors when coaching a work team. A qualitative descriptive study was conducted using thematic analysis of interviews with eight experienced coaches located in the United States. Four role behaviors were identified: advisor, educator, catalyzer, and assimilator. Four influencers on these behaviors also were identified: coach background, client perceptions and readiness, coaching goals, and systemic context. The findings led to five conclusions: (a) External coaches who work with teams shape-shift role behaviors along both directive and dialogic continuums over time; (b) external coaches attempt to reduce role confusion about the emerging practice of coaching work teams by describing their role based on the coaches’ understanding of their clients’ experiences and perceptions of coaching; (c) coaching a work team is more complex than coaching individuals due to the systemic context; (d) the effect of working with a team’s larger organizational system is greater than coaching only one part of the system, thus, creating leverage; and (e) coaching work teams, compared to coaching individuals, requires a broader base of knowledge, skills, and experience, notably related to team performance, group dynamics, team development, and systems. This study contributes to the literature as the first empirical study about coaching in the context of work teams conducted by external coaches that culminated with the development of a new framework called Shape-Shifting: A Conceptual Framework for Coaching Work Teams. The framework can inform a range of constituents including researchers, organizational leaders, organization development consultants, coach psychologists, and educators. This study further contributes to the literature by pointing to distinctions between coaching individuals and coaching teams, and between coaching and facilitating a team. Lastly, this study proposes an expanded definition of team coaching inclusive of both internal (manager) and external coaches. These various findings and the shape-shifting framework may deepen understanding about the benefits, limitations, practices, and unresolved questions about coaching work teams.

Key Words: executive coaching, team coaching, group and team development, organization change and development, role behavior

Monday, March 18, 2013

Jackie Eder-Van Hook’s dissertation on, "External Interim Executives: A Model for Nonprofit Leadership Succession"

Jackie Eder-Van Hook, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development

This retrospective descriptive study explores the experiences of 13 professional external interim executives (from a qualifying pool of 29) providing interim management to U.S. nonprofits and associations during leadership successions derived from 2-hour, one-on-one, semi-structured telephone interviews. It examines intersection of the interim management and transition literatures.

Interim management is the use of temporary CEO and executive-level consulting services (organization development, change management) by organizations during a leadership vacancy. Using an interim CEO allows organizations to take stock of their assets (fiscal, human, relationships, goodwill) and liabilities (business model, debt, sometimes founders); address simple and complex issues; and prepare the organization, board of directors, staff, and stakeholders for the future. These temporary executives are part of an expanding contingent workforce found in for-profit, nonprofit, academic, and government entities in the US and abroad.

The study highlights the ambiguous role of external interim executives as a hybrid leader—part leader, teacher, crisis manager, organization development practitioner, therapist, and consultant, and describes the complex environments in which they work. Participants described their entry and exit from the organization, organizational issues, communications, relationships (especially with the chair of the board of directors and its effect on the transition), governance, including governing board decision-making, and self and organizational assessments.

Further, the study provides new evidence in contrast with Goler’s 2003 study on acting staff and the focus placed on the incumbent’s departure and executive search by Farquhar (1991), Gabarro (1987), and Gilmore (1988).

The study summarizes 21 key transition models and offers a new transition theory. Executive transitions are defined as the manner in which individuals and organizations cope with and accept a change in “life space” and/or their work environment. A successful transition is dependent on the people involved, the reason for the transition, the environment, and whether the individual and/or organization used this period to reflect, learn from the situation, and affect change.

Key words: executive transition, transitions, interim executive, interim management, leadership succession, executive succession, nonprofits, associations, governance, board of directors, executive, CEO, acting director, interim director, temporary staff, contingent workforce, organization development

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sheila Hairston Reeves' dissertation on, "Co-Teacher Perceptions of Improving Practices for Middle School Students with Disabilities"

Sheila Hairston Reeves, Fielding’s School of Educational Leadership & Change

It is extremely important that the general and special education teachers work collaboratively as co-teachers to benefit the students (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008). The purpose of this study is to interview teachers with co-teaching experiences to determine their perceptions of effective activities by type of teacher. The theoretical framework includes Spillane’s (2005) distributive leadership emphasizing “leadership practices” and” leader plus”. Bandura (1993) notes that teacher efficacy begins with “self-efficacy” and “self-concept.” Harris & Muijs (2005) position is that the teacher leader is a “constructive approach” and based on teachers “sharing knowledge.” This study was a phenomenological mixed methods study. This study used a convenience sample of co-teachers from three metropolitan middle schools. Initial surveys were distributed through Survey Monkey to 42 teachers, of whom 38 replied. Data were compiled into frequency tables to determine total responses and into cross tabulated tables by type of teacher to determine group responses and to compute levels of association of perceptions (of strengths, challenges, practices, and preferred solutions) using chi square.

A focus group session was held with five co-teachers from the three schools (one set from each) to discuss the results of the responses from the survey so as to gain further insight into the co-teacher experience.

The co-teacher perceptions of highly qualified, type of teacher, practices, experiences, strengths, challenges, and recommendations were analyzed through collected surveys and focus group participation. The co-teacher perceptions of activities, strengths, challenges, and recommendations were compared for association by type of teacher (general and special education). No significant association by type of teacher was found for perceptions of strengths brought to the process, successful practices used, or challenges found. Perceptions by type of teacher were not found to be significantly associated.

Key words: co-teaching, teacher efficacy, highly qualified teachers, type of teacher special education, type of teacher general education

Monday, March 4, 2013

Laura Anne de Jonge's dissertation on, "Creating Shared Value: Using Social Media to Extend a Corporation’s Commitment to Social Responsibility"

Laura Anne de Jonge, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

Our world has changed as a result of globalization, advances in technology, and rapid developments in communication. Corporate leaders are challenged to understand how increased interconnectedness, eroded boundaries, and diffused technology (Nederveen Pieterse, 2004; Splichal, 2009) impact their business and how they engage with stakeholders. In the midst of these changes, two factors remain constant: Business relies on society and society relies on business to contribute to a progressive economy (Porter & Kramer, 2006, 2011).

To better understand the interdependence of business and society in today’s changing world, an exploratory case study was undertaken. The purpose was to evaluate how one company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) creates economic value in a way that also creates value for society. Porter and Kramer (2006, 2011) describe this as Shared Value. Specifically, the study considered a leadership approach that can be applied to extend CSR commitment through social media. Interviews were conducted with 21 employees of WestJet Airlines Ltd. (a Canadian-based, publicly listed, low-cost air carrier). In addition, data relating to WestJet’s CSR commitment and implementation and use of social media were analyzed. The study focused on WestJet’s strengths in leadership, CSR, and social media rather than on deficiencies, although opportunities for improvement were identified.

The foundational literature concentrated on three areas. First, CSR and its evolution were explored. In the study, the notion of a stalemate between ethics and economics (Driver, 2006; Friedman, 1970) was refuted and supplanted with the concept of creating Shared Value (Porter & Kramer, 2006, 2011). Second, the evolution of media and their impact on business were reviewed. The study considered how the shift of production and control of corporate communications away from businesses to the open Internet platform has required companies to engage with stakeholders in ways not previously imagined or expected. Third, classical and contemporary leadership theories were examined to ascertain their relevancy to CSR and social media. Based on that review, the study analyzed how business leaders and organizations can adapt to our changed world by applying Cosmopolitan Leadership (Wexler, 2005) to bridge CSR commitment and social media.

The study found that CSR commitment is demonstrated by a company’s business practices and actions aligning with its espoused values. Extending CSR commitment through social media requires a company and its leaders to tailor their approach to their unique business circumstances and stakeholders. Moreover, the study found that a company that recognizes and makes the connection between its own economic success and the success of society creates Shared Value that contributes economically, socially, and environmentally.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, social media, leadership, CSR, shared value, airline, Cosmopolitan Leadership, WestJet, case study