Date of Award

Winter 3-31-2021

Document Type

Dissertation - University of Massachusetts Global access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Douglas DeVore

Second Advisor

Walt Buster

Third Advisor

Jalin B. Johnson


Purpose. The purpose of this adaptation sequential explanatory mixed methods study was to determine the degree of importance that higher education department chairs ascribe to DeVore’s (1994) five stress-inducing behaviors of authoritative command, evaluation, norm discrepancy, sanction, and targeting when initiating change in the behaviors of individuals and/or groups. A second purpose was to explore and describe stress-inducing behaviors used by higher education department chairs to facilitate organizational change.

Methodology. This mixed-method research design used qualitative and quantitative data to analyze the research questions regarding DeVore’s (1994) five stress-inducing behaviors. The study combined two methods, questionnaire and interviews, in a sequential manner. First, the quantitative component (questionnaire) was administered via a 25-question online questionnaire. The results of the quantitative questionnaire guided the qualitative component (interviews) by prioritizing data and themes. The population for the study included 15 higher education department chairpersons who met the criteria to participate in the study from DLIFLC schools.

Findings. Examination of quantitative and qualitative data from the department chairs indicated they used all of the stress-inducing strategies. The strategies of evaluation, targeting, authoritative command, and norm discrepancy was most likely to be used while the strategy of sanction was least likely to be used in all scenarios. In addition, there was a difference between the scenarios with individual or group change and site-based or mandated change.

Conclusions. The study data support the conclusion that higher education department chairs use the stress-inducing strategies of authoritative command, evaluation, norm discrepancy, sanction, and targeting as a positive tool to create change.

Recommendations for Action. Further research is advised to better describe the

demographic information of the department chairs in the study. Also, it is recommended that the study be replicated with a comparison of a different population which represents all segments of private and public educational institutions, and postsecondary levels. Finally, a similar study should be conducted using the framework established in this and DeVore’s study to determine if there are any other stress-inducing strategies being used by leaders to facilitate change.