Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Mary Jo Abascal-Hildebrand, EdD, Director; Johanna S. Hunsaker, PhD; Phillip Hwang, PhD; Ines Kraft, PhD


collaboration, family-friendly workplace, Leadership studies, qualitative, parents & parenting, teams


Parenting experience is rarely valued or integrated with the work of a competitive society such as that of the United States. Despite the implementation of family-friendly workplace policies, institutional structures and practices continue to preclude the substantive acknowledgment of how parenting experience might contribute to the American workplace (Borrill & Kidd, 1994; Jenner, 1994; Rodgers, 1993). The dynamic complexity of parenting and the concomitant necessity to make constant response shifts and navigate incessant uncertainty, is not acknowledged as collateral for the responsiveness required by complex organizations. Familial commitments are often viewed as antithetical to productivity and profit (Bailyn, 1993): babies and boardrooms don't mix. Hence, the leadership potential of parents in the workplace is typically deemed inconsequential. The preponderance of work/family literature, rather than exploring how parenting experience might influence work (Piotrkowski, 1978; Voydanoff, 1988), addresses the effects of work on family interactions. And, the potential insights of parents within the emergent organizational structure of collaborative work in teams have been little explored. Nevertheless, some organizational theorists propose that both parent and team relationships (Manz & Sims, 1993; Mohrman, Cohen & Mohrman, 1995) may serve as collaborative models for embracing organizational complexity despite the individualistic, hierarchical tradition of the American workplace (Bergquist, 1993; Senge, 1990). Consistent with the emergent trend toward collaboration in the workplace, the researcher enjoined with participants to explore potential linkages between the dynamic complexity of parenting experience and the complexities of team-based interactions within post-modern organizations. Through a collaborative, qualitative research method known as naturalistic inquiry, the researcher observed and analyzed the interactions of nineteen students, both parents and non-parents, as they engaged in work teams at the University of Phoenix. The researcher then conducted a focus group with those participants who were also parents to elicit reflection and insight regarding their leadership experience, as parents and as team members. The study revealed a series of paradoxical relationships and competing tensions experienced by both parents and non-parents. The researcher discusses lessons learned as well as implications of these paradoxes for parents, teams, and leadership in organizations.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access