Date of Award

Spring 3-15-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Patricia White

Second Advisor

Keith Larick

Third Advisor

Jeffrey Lee


Purpose: The purpose of this grounded theory research consisting of five collective phenomenological studies was to generate a theory that explains how exemplar leaders from five different fields use six domains of conflict transformation behaviors to establish common ground and produce breakthrough results. The six domains of behavior are communication, collaboration, ethics, emotional intelligence, problem solving, and process. Methodology: The sample was composed of 75 exemplar leaders from five different professional fields and included an analysis of over 1,300 pages of interview transcripts as the main data source for the study. Findings: The results found that exemplar leaders establish, build, or repair relationships with traditional oppositional stakeholders as a method of inoculating against, mitigating, or resolving conflict. Communication was also identified as the primary domain for engaging stakeholders in collaboration, process, and problem solving. Exemplar leaders’ communication efforts were influenced by their emotional intelligence skill set, ethical behavior, and enforcement of a positive ethical climate. The greater the number of activities combined and the higher the quality interactions between the activities from the six domains of behavior created the conditions such that a leader had a greater opportunity for successfully transforming conflict, achieving common ground, and producing breakthrough results.