Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Paula A. Cordeiro, EdD, Chair; Kathleen M. Collins, PhD; Cheryl A. Getz, EdD


decision-making, Leadership studies, Mondragón (Spain), Mondragón Corporación Cooperativa (Mondragón, Spain), narrative analysis, participatory organizational models, Phenomenological-Heuristic


There has been a growing interest in exploring participatory organizational models for the last fifty years, accentuated by the recent corporate scandals that revealed the inadequacies of non-participatory organizational systems. Research studies have focused on organizational structures, policies and practices that make participation possible but it is persons who make participation happen. The purpose of this study was therefore to explore the significance of participation by examining the question: What does the experience of partaking in decision making mean to persons who engage in it. This research is a phenomenological-heuristic study. Phenomenology explores the lived experience of participating in decision making. Heuristic inquiry includes the researcher's experience in the study. Data collection consisted mostly of two in-depth dialogic interviews with each of eight respondents from the Mondragón Corporación Cooperativa (Spain), selected because of their extensive experience as protagonists in an organization that promotes broad participation. Research data were analyzed by identifying the meanings respondents attributed to the experience of participating in decision making and by using narrative analysis for their work and life experiences. Three feedback cycles from respondents were included in writing the final text. Since this research is intended for the general reader, its contents were represented as dialogic narratives throughout and tools from the “narrative non-fiction” genre were used to express meanings and personal experiences. The study describes fifteen interdependent outcomes: nine personal stories and six common themes. It also includes a synthesis, as well as personal and leadership implications. This research work intends to enhance the knowledge of participation in decision making by exploring the potential to deepen the meaning of partaking in decisions affecting each person in his or her work and life. It also aims to explore a methodology that facilitates the expression of meanings and lived experiences and makes research studies more accessible to the general reader.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access