Date of Award

Spring 3-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Patricia Clark White, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Len Hightower, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sharon Floyd, Ed.D.


Purpose:The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore how senior management leaders of certified B Corporations (B Corps) build trust with employees, using the 5 domains of connection, concern, candor, competence, and consistency.

Methodology:Aqualitative phenomenological approach was used in this study to explore how senior leaders of certified B Corps build trust with their employees using The Values Institute (TVI; Weisman, 2016) trust framework and the accompanying domains of connection, concern, candor, competence, and consistency. Participants were purposely chosen based on study criteria of a senior management leader in a certified B Corp including leadership for at least 2 years and expert recommendation. The study collected information-rich data from 10 leaders, in 10 different certified B Corps, using semistructured interviews as the central instrument as well observations and artifacts. Data collection tools were aligned to the study purpose to explore the trust-building strategies of B Corp leaders. The researcher used NVivo software to organize and sort data based on themes and patterns.

Findings: Analysis of data from interviews, observations, and artifacts resulted in the identification of 862 total frequencies and 19 themes across the five domains of connection, concern, candor, competence, and consistency. Eight key findings were identified to answer the central research question and 5 subquestions.

Conclusions: Five conclusions, drawn from study findings, support and integrate the trust domains to describe the trust building strategies of leaders. The leaders in this study (a) demonstrate self-awareness and an understanding of the emotional impact their actions might have on employees, (b) intentionally build caring relationships with their employees, (c) communicate with truthfulness and clarity, (d) are grounded in their values and integrate them into their work, and (e) distribute power by collaborating with employees and involving them in high level decision making.

Recommendations: Further research of the trust-building strategies of leaders should be conducted using a larger study sample, across a wider geographic area. Additionally, leadership trust studies in other for-profit industries and non-profit organizations would add to academic research.