Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, Ph.D.; Mary B. McDonald, Ph.D.; Helen Eckmann, Ph.D.


narrative leadership, photovoice, shared leadership, storytelling, women


Leadership often is defined as a persuasive relationship. Over the last two decades, narrative leadership has been viewed in the Leadership Studies literature as a source of persuasion. Narrative leaders use stories to impact others in both large-scale political and social movements, as well as in large-scale organizations. Even as this has been happening, the field also has begun to re-conceptualize leadership as a group rather than an individual process, a view of leadership sometimes characterized as shared leadership. There is limited understanding of whether narrative leadership operates in shared leadership situations and a dearth of literature about specific techniques or strategies that foster narrative leadership in small groups.

The photovoice strategy encourages group members to take photographs and, then, to use the photographs to prompt storytelling and critical discussion. The purpose of the study was to examine whether photovoice techniques could foster narrative leadership, as well as the conditions the literature indicates are needed for shared leadership to occur within a small group of middle-aged women.

Five women (ages 42-55), plus the researcher who functioned as a participant-observer, took part in three photovoice sessions. Data from videotapes of the sessions, as well as interview and survey data generated before, after, and throughout the process, were analyzed. Analysis techniques included Polkinghorne’s narrative-analysis and analysis-of-narrative strategies.

Evidence suggests photovoice techniques changed the thinking of all participants, often in major ways, and, consequently, narrative leadership occurred. The two facilitators also changed their thinking substantially as a result of being involved with the group. Though it was nearly impossible to assess whether shared leadership occurred, due to the fact that there was nothing to accomplish other than individual and group learning, the evidence did document that the three conditions the literature suggests are pre-requisites for shared leadership to occur were generated by the photovoice process.

The study is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it documents the utility of using photovoice in small group settings to promote narrative leadership. The study also suggests that photovoice can create conditions considered pre-requisites for shared leadership to occur.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies