Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Chair; Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Member; Zachary Green, PhD, Member


Constructivist Grounded theory, Coping mechanism, employee burnout, higher education, integrative environment, Leadership studies, qualitative, residence life professionals, Stress, supervisor, work-life boundary management


How individuals manage work/life boundaries when they live at the place they work, as opposed to working from home, is a gap in both work/life literature and in higher education literature. An obvious example from higher education is the resident life professional that lives in the residential facility that she or he oversees. Living in a residential facility creates challenges to boundary creation. The job requirements; pressures from students and staff; supervisor expectations, both spoken and unspoken; and the physical location of their home within the building creates a highly boundary integrative environment making the establishment of boundaries difficult. The purpose of this study was to understand how resident life professionals' use of space, negotiation of technology, and boundary management style adapt to handle the integrative environment in order to prevent or manage stress and burnout. This qualitative study used a constructivist grounded theory approach that included in-depth semi-structured interviews with twelve participants who were selected from a national survey of resident life professionals using maximum variation sampling. The sample included both public and private universities and contained participants from six out of the nine ACUHO-I regions. Interview transcripts were coded using grounded theory methods of open and focused coding. The constant comparison technique and memo writing were used throughout the coding process to develop analytical categories and themes. Analysis of the relationships between the participants' data, the codes, categories, and themes lead to the final production of a process model of boundary management in a highly integrative environment. This model illustrates how boundary stressors like student needs, supervisor expectations and behaviors, seasonal and student events, staff needs, and the physical setup of the professional's personal space, lead to integrative coping strategies of boundary management that are primarily learned from experience by the resident life professional. Understanding the integrative environment and how resident life professionals learn to cope with the constant boundary stressors is significant to both resident life leadership and the professionals themselves. Increasing integrative coping strategies could help to fight burnout and increase retention for an important entry-level job in residence life.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies