Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD; Fred J. Galloway, EdD; Laura Deitrick, PhD


Uniqueness, belongingness, inclusive leadership, paradox, nonprofit performing arts organizations


Inclusive leadership is undoubtedly a practice to strive for, and few would argue against the value of leading inclusively. Yet, empirically, little is known about what constitutes effective inclusive leadership, especially in the context of nonprofit performing arts organizations. This sector is a particularly apt place to study and practice inclusive leadership because, in addition to the many benefits it provides, the nonprofit arts sector has problematic roots in terms of privileging a dominant social class by prioritizing certain art forms over others. For example, the popularity of the nonprofit form in the arts sector, when compared to for-profit or government forms, is a function of inequitable access to funding and power when the nonprofit form was invented. From this historical and political perspective, White, urban, upper-class elites of the 19th and early 20th centuries used the trustee-governed nonprofit form to organize symphonies, ballet companies, and theatre companies. Whether intentional or not, this act of pouring philanthropic dollars into Eurocentric art forms protected an elitist culture and fortified White-dominated art forms as industry standard and the highest forms of art to be revered. Therefore, the sector as we know it today, increasingly diverse across myriad social identities but built on problematic roots, needs an assessment and new understanding of inclusive leadership.

This research aimed to expand work on inclusive leadership by applying the Inclusive Leadership Questionnaire (Li, 2021) to the context of nonprofit performing arts organizations. In addition, the research extended the growing emphasis on identity and social justice in the measurement of inclusive leadership through the development of the Uniqueness and Belongingness Index, which addresses the only section of the Inclusive Leadership Questionnaire that was not validated in a recent study of the instrument's psychometric properties. In short, this study was focused on (a) measuring the inclusiveness of leaders in nonprofit performing arts organizations in California, (b) evaluating the psychometric properties of both the instrument and the index, (c) and exploring the relationship between inclusive leadership scores generated by the instrument and the index on the one hand, and demographic and organizational characteristics on the other. The findings suggest that leaders are often inclusive when they suspect synergy of ideas and less often inclusive when they suspect conflict and challenges. Additionally, male-identifying individuals are likely to perceive their leaders as more inclusive when compared to female or gender nonbinary individuals. Finally, employees in larger organizations are more likely to rate their leaders as less inclusive when compared to those in smaller organizations. Together, the results suggest recommendations for inclusive leadership practices, and alert leaders to preconceptions of inclusion built around certain identities and organizational contexts.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies

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