Date of Award

Spring 3-14-2022

Document Type

Dissertation - University of Massachusetts Global access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Douglas DeVore

Second Advisor

Lisa Simon

Third Advisor

Martinrex Kedziora


Purpose: The purpose of this mixed-methods case study was to identify and describe the behaviors that exemplary charter school leaders use to create a personal and organizational meaning for themselves and their followers through character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration. In addition, it was the purpose of this study to determine the followers perceived degree of importance of these behaviors to create personal and organizational meaning.

Methodology: This mixed-methods research design used qualitative and quantitative data to analyze the research questions regarding charter school CEOs as meaning makers. The study combined two methods, surveys and interviews, in a sequential manner. First, the quantitative component (surveys) were administered via a 53-question online survey. The results of the quantitative survey guided the qualitative component (interviews) by prioritizing data and themes. The population for the study included three charter school CEOs and 10 or more of their employees.

Findings: The qualitative findings of this research suggest that exemplary charter school CEOs demonstrate behaviors from each of the five meaning making domains (character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration), with character and vision indicated as the most important for making meaning. The quantitative findings gathered from the followers indicated that they perceive character and vision to be the most important when creating meaning within an organization.

Conclusions: The study’s findings support the need for charter school CEOs to utilize behaviors from each of the five meaning making domains (character, vision, relationships, wisdom, and inspiration) to create meaning for themselves and their followers. CEOs who want to develop behaviors in these domains should set aside time for planning and reflection, make ethical decisions, and participate in trainings across domains.

Recommendations: There is a need for further exploration in this area of study. Replication studies could identify different populations, exemplary traditional school district leaders, private school leaders, or look at other geographical locations. It is also recommended that additional studies be conducted in this area to add to the overall body of knowledge on meaning making.