Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Mimi Wolverton

Number of Pages



Public higher education institutions today are fiercely competitive social, economic, and technologic powerhouses with complex missions, structures, and issues. They help fuel business and economic development through their direct impact on growth and spending and through the creation of new jobs and businesses, and have become critical sources of scientific talent, research data, and technological innovations for both the public and the private sector; In comparison, private sector enterprises today function in an environment where knowledge is economic capital and success is driven by highly skilled professional employees working in innovative organizational units to find, use, create, and transform knowledge and information; all in the face of a greater public expectation of increased fairness, responsiveness, and accountability; The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of context on individual leader perspectives of the leadership experience. The issues identified and delineated by the participants of the American Council on Education's Fourth Women Presidents' Summit provided the rationale for the study. Through purposeful sampling, three private enterprise business sector and three public research university leaders, meeting the criteria of this exploratory comparative case study, were identified. The data were evaluated using the theories of Person-organization fit, Schneider's (1987) Attraction-Selection-Attrition, and Mintzberg's (1981) five organization configurations as analytical frameworks; The data and analytical frameworks confirmed and validated the themes of engagement, productivity, and accountability and the personal, positional, and public domains that emerged. The findings of this research indicate that the environment in which these leaders operate did affect their perception of the leadership experience. As well, the lack of consensus among the leaders by sector and the spectrum of the leaders' perceptions of their experiences provide further evidence that the specific context of their influence and control is significant; The findings of this study also suggest that there are particular indicators associated with the themes and domains of leadership that can be applied to assess the impact of context. The researcher developed a model and presents evidence rooted in an unanticipated finding of the study that advances a hypothesis about contextual accord, or lack thereof, between leader and environment.


Analysis; Case; Comparative; Context; Female; Leaders; Leadership; Private; Private Sector; Public; Public Sector; Women Leaders

Controlled Subject

School management and organization; Women's studies; Education, Higher

File Format


File Size

6686.72 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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