Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Joseph C. Rost, PhD, Director; William P. Foster, EdD; William L. Pickett, PhD; Robert F. O'Neil, PhD


Ethnography, general managers, leader communication, Leadership studies, organizational culture, southern California


Corporate culture, the object of considerable media attention since 1980, has been identified as an important consideration for improving performance. While the literature points to vision as a key element for building a productive culture, it does not sufficiently address the communication process used by leaders to transmit their vision. This research looks at the leadership and communication aspects of culture, exploring the extent to which the leader's ideology influences the behaviors of organization members. Conducted in a $30 million Southern California company of 225 employees, the study focuses on a female general manager who, in the founder's absence, has been in charge since 1981. The study employed a dual method, three stage design. During stage one, the culture was studied ethnographically at the company site during two visits within a six month period. Observations were made of daily organizational activities, publications were evaluated, and interviews were conducted with the leader, management council and key employees from every department. In stage two, a survey instrument was developed from the data collected in the first phase. This questionnaire was designed to measure the degree to which organizational members shared the values stated by the leader, and to validate observational data. One third of the employees responded to the survey; results from this third stage were used to objectively verify the subjective material gathered by the observer. The survey demonstrated that organization members at all levels shared the ideology communicated by the leader. Both quantitative and qualitative data confirm an assumption that the leader's communication profoundly influenced member behavior. Collected evidence indicates that leader controlled elements of organizational gender and demography are significant factors in the company's operation and performance. Results of this study suggest that vision, effectively communicated in the form of leader ideology, affects both member behavior and organizational performance. This research, which dramatizes the relationship between a company and its general manager, has implications for those leaders of organizations who give high priority to excellence.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access