Winter 1-20-2023

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Donald R. LaMagdeleine

Second Advisor

Douglas C. Orzolek

Third Advisor

Janis Weller


This qualitative case study investigates Paulus Center for Music, a large non-profit community music school, during a unique period of transition in its history. Located in Midwest, USA, Paulus began as a small violin school in the 19-aughts, and quickly grew into the largest community music school in the country. It established a college division and awarded bachelor’s and master’s degrees for over 25 years. After the death of its founder, the school was gifted to Big 10 University, where it operated for two decades. Big 10 divested from Paulus, soft launching it as an independent music school in the mid-1990s, issuing in a period of renewal and regrowth at Paulus. This dissertation is an investigation of that period, analyzed through the lens of DiMaggio & Powell’s institutional isomorphisms and Stevens’ organizational lifecycles. Paulus has four clear isomorphic periods in its history, with two distinct organizational lifecycles. Bourdieusian theory is also used to understand the field, habitus, and the different forms of capital at Paulus. This organization generates cultural capital, sustaining the school in good days and bad. Goffmanian theory analyzes key dramaturgical players and factors in the school’s transition into an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Findings suggest that due to its entrepreneurial spirit, Paulus is most successful when it self-governs. The school suffers when it is unable to live up to its mission due to external restrictions and constraints placed on it. Creativity thrives at Paulus, and when creativity thrives, Paulus thrives.

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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