Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Donald R. LaMagdeleine

Second Advisor

Diane Fittipaldi

Third Advisor

Michael Porter



The purpose of this study was to understand how a Fortune 100 health care organization’s leadership development program prepares promising leaders for executive level positions. The primary research questions were: 1) What are the recruiting practices for attracting high potential candidates into the organization’s leadership development program? 2) What is the curriculum that guides the development of the program’s participants? 3) Does the program’s pedagogy align with the curriculum and practice for developing leaders? 4) How should an organization evaluate the success of their program? The collection of qualitative data involved semi-structured, one-to-one, in-depth interviews totaling 23 program associates, graduates, directors, and steering committee members.

This study required a complex integration of sociological and anthropological theories using a normative case study and grounded theory tactics to uncover how executive leaders establish, grow, and sustain their power in order to survive the competitive world of organizational leadership. Further, this study produced meaningful findings showing how leaders acquire and monetize their social and cultural capital through information, influence, and innovation. There are no comparable studies involving organizational leadership development programs offering detailed analysis and critical findings illuminated by the data collected, coded, and analyzed.

Participants revealed a strategic pattern of professional development, years in advance of leadership development program auditions. While the program structure is consistent with Talent Management research for developing high potentials, such as mentoring, coaching, assessments, formal and experiential learning, special events, and access to high-ranking executives, the data demonstrates that the program’s structure does not consistently produce the caliber of leadership required for the organization’s talent pipeline.

Further examination of the data revealed a set of leadership markers common amongst executive leaders and necessary to maintain power, missing from the program’s pedagogy. These markers are ambiguously defined by executive leaders and undetected by the program’s director and participants. Other contributing factors include the curious and transitional role of the program director, along with a spoiled rite of passage resulting from missing graduation criteria, the lack of program elders and adepts, and other distractions that extend the participants’ liminal period.

While the health care industry is complex due to the broad range of stakeholders, the required leadership markers remain consistent with other industries. In this study, leaders acquire power through hierarchical status and their aptitude for influencing other leaders, generating social and cultural capital necessary to reinforce organizational power. The objective of these leadership programs is to produce viable leaders, capable of competing for the limited number of executive roles that requires organizational power yet is critically missing from this program.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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