Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

William P. Foster, EdD, Director; Edward F. DeRoche, PhD; Fred R. Bahr, DBA


Leadership studies, nonprofit board, nonprofit organizations, public commission, strategic planning


Recently, scholars have shown greater interest in nonprofit organizations. More and more authors are documenting the need for nonprofit organizations to borrow from the management practices of the private sector. Strategic planning is one such practice. Most of the earlier research attempts to link strategic planning with nonprofit organizations have failed to provide the descriptive data necessary for a realistic account of an organization's planning efforts. The intent of this study was to document the strategic planning process conducted by a nonprofit Board of Directors and a public Commission and to describe the influence of the planning process on Board Members and Commissioners. The design of this study used a broad interpretation of action research and was enriched through participant observation. Data was collected during pre- and post-planning interviews with Board Members and Commissioners as well as Strategic Planning Committee meetings. Interview data was analyzed and presented. A narrative of the planning process was compiled in the genre of story telling for each participating organization. Among the conclusions drawn are the following: (a) the planning process is unique to each organization, (b) the product of the planning process is unique to each organization, (c) the planning process serves as an arena for valuable discussion, (d) the selection of the strategic planning committee and its chair is very important, (e) the planning process is a four-part process, (f) the full Board or Commission should be involved in the assessment and implementation phases of planning, (g) the majority of Board Members and Commissioners interviewed defined strategic planning as rational and linear, believed that strategic planning is equally beneficial in all sectors, believed that strategic planning is the responsibility of the Board or Commission (as opposed to staff), preferred using the services of a planning consultant, and believed that the entire Board or Commission must involved in the planning process.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access