Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Donald R. LaMagdeleine

Second Advisor

Michael Fine

Third Advisor

Cindy Lavorato


ABSTRACT Research on complex municipal redevelopment projects from an insider’s perspective is a much-needed addition to the discipline of leadership studies in the United States. International research has shown that project leadership must be examined as the exercise of power toward an intended outcome, and that leaders employ various strategies to determine that outcome. This intense normative case study analyzes how leaders of a large municipal redevelopment project used knowledge of local values, forms of social capital, and adept practical wisdom as effective strategies to successfully complete the project. The significance of the intense normative case study approach used here cannot be overstated, employing the researcher’s insider perspective to ask: What did it take to build an Arts Center in a mid-sized city in the Midwest, US? Based on a review of literature examining cities as complex social systems, along with theories of constructing social space there in, 51 intense one-on-one interviews were conducted with people actively involved in the project. The data strongly supports the use of Goffman’s dramaturgical theory as an analytic tool for studying the art of leadership in municipal redevelopment, in conjunction with theories of power; particularly the elements in Bourdieu’s structural constructivism of habitus and circulating social capital, and Flyvbjerg’s critique of contemporary social science as lacking a phronetic framework with which to study power as a practical art. In addition, emergent complexity theory newly applied to social systems, informed the analysis of leaders’ strategic responses to events that lay outside regular expectations. The data demonstrated that leaders with earned social capital, who understood the city’s habits and values and how to manipulate them with dramatic invocations and enactments, exercised their accumulated practical knowledge to reach an intended outcome.

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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