Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A phenomenological investigation of small-business closure in California: An examination of the leadership process
by Robinson Harris, Theresa, Ed.D., Pepperdine University, 2016, 214; 10107146
Abstract (Summary)

Small businesses are important to the United States economy, and yet the majority struggle to remain relevant and close prior to their fifth year. This qualitative phenomenological study explored small business closure in California by comparing the experiences of successful and unsuccessful small-business leaders, to understand their involvement with leadership during the early stages of the business, and the impact of this on the firms’ ability to survive. Participants’ experiences from two groups, successful and unsuccessful, were compared to glean an understanding of the leadership process, how leadership differs between the groups, and to see what themes or constructs emerged that could help to explain the high closure rate. This resulted in the development of 12 themes. The predominant themes were: small business closure can be caused by inability to motivate employees; by poor understanding and lack of attention to leadership, and by lack of relationship building skills. The data also showed that leadership shortfall directly impacted 65% of the companies studied, however leadership was not considered a priority in participating organizations but rather an afterthought to be considered only in times of crises. Yet leadership was perceived to be important when envisioning a path for the future and when providing a platform for employees to succeed. Those embracing leadership as a skillset were more likely to get through the challenges of the early developmental years while those ignoring the importance of leadership were more likely to close prematurely. These findings suggest a disconnect with regards to the understanding, role, and benefits of leadership in small organizations, particularly young organizations in the early stages of development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schmieder-Ramirez, June
Commitee: Dellaneve, James, Mallette, Leo
School: Pepperdine University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Entrepreneurship, Educational leadership, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Business failure, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Leadership development, Leadership process, Small business
Publication Number: 10107146
ISBN: 978-1-339-70548-4
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