Date of Award

Spring 4-13-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Lisbeth Johnson, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Douglas Devore, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Patrick Ainsworth, Ed.D.


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to identify and describe how exemplary Millennial leaders in admissions/enrollment management use power and influence to create ethical organizational climate and to describe essential tactics Millennial leaders in admissions/enrollment management use to sustain an ethical climate.

Methodology: Qualitative case study methodology was used to provide a detailed description of the perspectives of 11 exemplary Millennial leaders in admissions/enrollment management in private non-profit higher education institutions in California, Oregon, and Washington and their approach to power, influence, leadership, and organizational climate. Case study instruments were developed through the lens of a theoretical framework, capturing the tactical use of power and influence, ethical leadership, and the cultivation of ethical organizational climates.

Findings: Qualitative findings of this research illustrate how exemplary Millennial leaders, who participated in this study use power and influence to create and sustain an ethical organizational climate. Data analysis produced nine themes, demonstrating the tactics these leaders use to influence ethical decision-making and behavior as well as cultivating a culture of trust being most prominent theme.

Conclusion: The study’s findings support the need for higher education institutions to prioritize professional development to equip the next generation of leaders with ethical leadership skills. The study demonstrated the need to appoint exemplary Millennial leaders to lead task forces and committees to proactively develop an awareness of their organizational climate’s responses to current unprecedented times in higher education in order to address any factors that may lead to unethical decision-making or behavior, especially related to admissions/enrollment management.

Recommendations for Action: There is a need to explore generational distinctions in the context of leadership in higher education and to identify leaders of all ages who use power and influence to sustain an ethical organizational climate. It would be advantageous to examine how admissions/enrollment leaders can partner with professional organizations to help streamline ethical processes/policies and determine where the gaps exist. Future recommendations influenced by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, growing public scrutiny, and initiatives related to implementing equitable admissions practices that create more diverse and inclusive student populations are critical for future ethical organizational climates.