Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Chair; Antonio Jiménez-Luque, PhD, Member; René Molenkamp, PhD, Member; Saundra M. Tabet, PhD, Member


adaptive leadership, leadership development, group relations, case-in- point, pedagogy, instrument, scale development, conceptual interviews, exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, exploratory structural equation model


In a world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, adaptive leaders are needed more than ever. Based on group relations programs developed by the Tavistock Institute, a pedagogy known as case-in-point has recently been brought to prominence and incorporated into leadership development programs. These methods claim to develop systems thinking and individuals’ leadership capacity with little prior empirical research.

This mixed methods exploratory study explored individual awareness of group dynamics, a key outcome in case-in-point programs, and adaptive leadership theory. The goal was to create an instrument to measure awareness of group dynamics: the Group Dynamics Awareness Questionnaire (GDAQ). Qualitative interviews exploring group dynamics awareness formed a model of four domains around the use of one’s own experience and meaning-making, the use of prior context in a group labeled kinetics, and the shifting behaviors and moments in a group, labeled kinematics.

Exploratory factor analysis, internal consistency, and correlation coefficients presented a 28-item four-factor solution based on 1,102 participant scores from Amazon Mechanical Turk (Amazon MTurk; 2019). The four factors contained items that measured awareness of (a) Roles and Authority, (b) Body Language, (c) Awareness of Self and Relationship to Others, and (d) Group Context and Purpose. Confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory structural equation modeling were conducted on a second sample of 289 responses from leadership or group relations practitioners and students. Results indicated good model fit and alignment with the qualitative model. Additional exploration of demographic factors (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, age) indicated increased age, being a leadership professional, and having prior group relations experience were associated with increases on GDAQ factors or overall scores. In addition to the GDAQ, the study presents a model of group dynamics titled the What Everyone Can Notice In Groups (WENG) model. Together, they form a heuristic that may be useful for anyone in a group to understand how a group’s process informs their thinking as described by Heifetz et al.’s (2009) observe, interpret, intervene steps in their model of adaptive leadership. This study presents important implications for understanding adaptive leadership, group relations-based interventions, and case-in-point pedagogy and implications for group relations-based pedagogy.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies