Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey W. Cornett

Second Advisor

Dr. Daniel Dinsmore

Third Advisor

Dr. Sophie, Maxis

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Matthew A. Ohlson

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Cynthia White-Williams

Department Chair

Dr. Elizabeth Gregg

College Dean

Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey


This study analyzes the leadership practice of two experienced female leaders from the health care sector to understand their decision-making processes as it relates to their personal theorizing. Ineffective and unethical leadership in American business is a reality in today’s society. Organizations are in need of leaders who approach leadership from a paradigm which supports effective leadership practice. It is my assertion regarding this study that effective leadership may be connected to a leader’s values which impact their leadership practice and decision-making.

This study relies on a conceptual and theoretical framework based in Cornett’s (1990) Naturalistic Decision Making Model. It is imperative to the development of healthy learning organizations that the relationships influencing a leader’s naturalistic decision-making be explored. At the time of this writing, no naturalistic collective case study research in the health care industry has been completed to relate a leader’s naturalistic decision-making or personal practical theories (PPTs) as defined by Cornett (1990). Furthermore, research has not been explored in a field outside of education regarding the formation of a leader’s PPTs and the relationship between a leader’s experiences and leadership practice.

Study findings demonstrated that Cornett’s (1990) naturalistic decision-making model (NDM) is a useful heuristic for a health care leader’s reflective leadership practice. Health care leaders’ perceptions of leadership are systematically achieved through the process of reflective thought which the NDM assists in emerging. The NDM is an efficacious tool for personal and professional development. The constructs of this model were effective in allowing the health care leaders studied to reflect on their leadership practice and decision making. This research found that the collective theme amongst the participants was a value-based leadership paradigm.

The data collected in this research project suggests that the PPTs of health care leaders are developed through their life experiences. They are described in the context of their core values and leadership personal and formal theorizing. They are understood through their life experiences, interactions with other leaders, and interactions with those around them.

Discovering the relationships involved with a leader’s naturalistic decision-making is of great importance to the educational and health care communities. It has the potential to impact human resources policies and training leading to stronger and more effective organizations. Understanding this phenomenon may lead to more reflective and thoughtful decision-making among health care leaders. It has the potential to impact organizational policies, structure, training, commitment, and profits. This may lead to healthier and intrinsically motivated employees and more effective learning organizations.