Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Case Study of the Followership Role of Executive Assistants in Global Organizations
by Read, John Basil, III., Ph.D., Indiana Institute of Technology, 2018, 204; 10824226
Abstract (Summary)

Despite Kelley’s (1992) observation that followers are responsible for 80% of organizational success, little is known about how an individual follower could influence decisions that directly impact outcomes in a global organization. Previous research indicates that proactive followers self-describe their workplace behavior as engaging and influencing the leader in support of organizational objectives (Carsten, Uhl-Bien, West, Patera, & McGregor, 2010). Similarly, academics have found that followers who frequently interact with senior executives may be able to wield social influence (Oc & Bashshur, 2013). However, there is no research to suggest that such influence is directed towards or has an effect on executive decision-making. This dissertation employed a qualitative methodology using a case study research design to explore the followership role of executive assistants in global organizations. Gatekeeping theory was used to describe the actions of individuals who control information flows, access, and networks, to include how such control has an influencing effect on individuals who are on the receiving end of the gatekeeper’s action (Barzilai-Nahon, 2009; Bouhnik & Giat, 2015). The case study was comprised subcases that focused on five executive/executive assistant dyads in global fashion corporations.

The findings suggested that executive assistants are followers who serve in a gatekeeper role and that their actions impact the executive decision-making process. Further, the data suggested that executive assistants may also influence an executive’s decisions through strong interpersonal relationships. The findings revealed four interrelated themes—decision-making, efficiency and effectiveness, gatekeeping, and trusting relationship—that demonstrate how executive assistants were able to influence the executive decisional processes. While the level of influence was varied among the dyads, primarily based on the level of follower proactive behavior, the ability to sway the executive thought process, to include decisions having organizational impact, was found in all five dyads.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Williams, Brenda C.
Commitee: Lyndon, Amy E., Murnane, Jennifer A.
School: Indiana Institute of Technology
Department: Global Leadership
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management
Keywords: Decision making, Executive assistant, Followership, Gatekeeping, Influence, Leadership
Publication Number: 10824226
ISBN: 978-0-438-02947-7
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