Date of Award

Spring 2-5-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Cindy L. Petersen

Second Advisor

Dr. Donna O'Neil

Third Advisor

Dr. Alana Hughes-Hunter


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to identify and describe strategies used by superintendents of California public school districts in Los Angeles County to build an adaptive capacity based on the five key characteristics of adaptive leadership by Heifetz et al. (2009).

Methodology: This phenomenological study explored the lived experiences of superintendents serving in public school districts in Los Angeles County. Purposeful, convenience sampling was used to identify 10 participants who met the study’s criteria. The semi-structured, open-ended interview protocol was developed by a thematic research team of nine peer researchers and three faculty advisors. Data collected from the interviews and artifacts were analyzed to identify themes related to the study’s research questions.

Findings: Analysis of the data collected from interviews and artifacts resulted in 614 frequencies across 23 major themes and five key findings. From the themes and key findings, five major findings emerged.

Conclusions: Five conclusions were drawn based on the major findings and supporting literature. Superintendents build organizational adaptive capacity by (a) building trusting relationships that promote open dialogue to strengthen communication (b) emphasizing collaborative ownership using effective communication, (c) Decision-making parameters foster independent judgment and adaptability, (d) supporting professional growth opportunities, and (e) emphasizing reflection and learning.

Recommendations: The researcher recommends a strategic enhancement in leadership methodologies and training programs. This augmentation advocates the incorporation of a community collaboration framework, drawing inspiration from the wealth of best practice from the California County Office of Education repository. To support the integration of shared leadership and autonomy, diverse resources such as materials, presentations, articles, and support documents, can promote an engaged administrative environment. For the optimal outcome, superintendents should construct a comprehensive framework to delineate opportunities for team building, foster collaboration, and establish clear goals aligning with the overarching vision of the district.