A phenomenological study of nonprofit leaders' call to serve

by Whitaker, Teresa G., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 177 pages; 3502735


What ratio of nonprofit leaders report experiencing a career calling? How do nonprofit leaders experience career callings? How do previous life experiences inform and influence nonprofit leaders’ career callings? The design of this research study answers these questions. A phenomenological qualitative study, using case study interviews, allowed 29 leaders in the nonprofit sector to share their experiences related to callings. The researcher developed and used the Career Callings Survey in order to elicit responses to the research questions. The research provided insight into how leaders experienced their career calling, important influences in their lives, and previous life experiences that informed and influenced their career calling. Findings for this research study include: (a) a majority of respondents experienced a career calling; (b) a majority of leaders shared a deep desire to “serve others”; (c) all respondents believed what they were doing was the “right thing to do”; (d) a majority of leaders claimed their career calling was based on “God’s will ”; (e) all respondents had responded to specific “opportunities” that were presented to them; (f) nearly half of leaders experience(s) included “meaning in suffering”; and a statistically significant number of respondents attributed a strong response to “human need” as an element of their calling. Further study is needed in other sectors of the nonprofit and for profit community to compare and contrast these findings. Moreover, a review of a broader demographic population, including a national and international perspective, is highly recommended for consideration. The implications from this study show “opportunities” play a pivotal role for all nonprofit leaders and they believe strongly they were called to their profession because they think it was “the right thing to do”.

AdviserRebecca Koelln
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsPhilosophy; Management; Business education
Publication Number3502735

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