Date of Award

Summer 7-15-2022

Document Type

Dissertation - University of Massachusetts Global access only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Greenberg

Second Advisor

Dr. Phil Pendley

Third Advisor

Dr. Joe Jaconette


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe the experiences of the elected city council members of Monterey Peninsula, California in using Giles’s (1973) communication accommodation model of convergence and divergence strategies when communicating with constituents.

Methodology: This phenomenological study examined the experiences of eight elected city council members of Monterey Peninsula area in using communication accommodation strategies in their communications with constituents. Data were collected by conducting in-person and virtual semistructured interviews with the participants. Data were collected, analyzed, and triangulated with the interview data and other artifacts. Data were then coded into themes and reported under the major strategies used by the council members.

Findings: The findings of this study revealed that city council members use code-switching, adjusting choice of words and expressions, adjusting speech patterns, and adjusting nonverbal behavior as primary convergence and divergence strategies in their communication with the constituents. Elements like pre-interaction mediators and the assessment of the psychological state of their communicative partner assisted the council members in choosing the appropriate strategy during a certain communication.

Conclusion: Based on the literature and findings of this study, 4 major conclusions were drawn that provide a deeper insight into the communicative behavior of city council members. City council members are expected to possess qualities of different communication styles and patterns for effective communication; pre-interaction mediators of communication mediate the effectiveness of city council members’ communication; in-person and face-to-face meeting is still one of the most effective tools of communication in local governance; assessing the psychological state, goals, and motivation of constituents will yield a long-term transformational relationship between city council members and their audience.

Recommendations: Further research is needed to expand on the understanding about the communication accommodation strategies used by city council members in other parts of the country and around the world. Additionally, further research should be conducted on other local public office holders in using convergence and divergence strategies with their audience.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Thursday, August 01, 2024