Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Donald R. LaMagdeleine

Second Advisor

Mike Porter

Third Advisor

David Johanek


Research into the inner-workings of high-tech startups in the field of leadership within the United States is needed. The accelerating impact of technology on society is clear. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a primary technology of an emergent era, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0). Silicon Valley startups germinate many of these Industry 4.0 IoT technologies. The current understanding of leadership in IoT startups is often based on media reports. recounting villains and heroes. This is not that. This is a qualitative, normative case study based on the researcher’s insider status at an IoT startup. Insider case study research into leadership of this type is sparse. Based on a review of the literature, multiple one-on-one interviews were conducted with leaders in an IoT startup. An additional 12 interviews were conducted with leaders in the IoT startup field. This study asks: What does it take to lead an IoT startup in Silicon Valley? The data supported the use of Goffman’s (1959b) dramaturgy as an analytical tool for leadership. The leadership at IoT Inc. took on prescribed roles in formal and informal settings. Bourdieu’s (2020) social capital, habitus, and field concepts are also supported for analyzing IoT startups. The individuals at IoT Inc. used social capital, and exhibited habitus based on experiences and expertise while interacting with the IoT field. Chia’s (2013) process-orientation and application of knowledge types like techne, metis, and phronesis is supported. Leaders in the case study exhibited complexity-based leadership when pursuing opportunities in an environment of constrained resources. The data demonstrated that entrepreneurial leaders with accumulated social capital and habitus, who understand the dramaturgical context of an emergent technology field, can use forms of expert pragmatic knowledge to navigate the complexity in pursuit of a vision.

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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