Organization Development



Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Organization Development (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Eleni Roulis

Second Advisor

Alla Heorhiadi

Third Advisor

Susan Foster


This phenomenological study focuses on the description of the nature and the meaning of the experience of being a deaf entrepreneur/business owner. Very little is known of the nature of deaf entrepreneurs and business owners. Because of the growing numbers of deaf people becoming entrepreneurs, it is important that we gain a better understanding of the experience of being a deaf entrepreneur/business owner. To gain further insight into the nature of this experience, in-depth interviews were conducted with 14 participants. These individuals were selected in accordance to Crammate‘s definition of "deaf" and having had been an entrepreneur/business owner for at least 2 years. Through an coded analysis of the transcribed text from the interviews, six essential themes emerged: (1) pursuing their passion with experience and skill; (2) running their enterprise through collaboration, networking, strategy and understanding of the market; (3) reflecting on their identity as a deaf person and how it impacted their experience; (4) building bridges to the rest of the world using communication strategies; (5) having a support network; (6) desiring to make an impact on the world. These themes were present among deaf entrepreneurs/business owners in all types, sizes, and structures of businesses.

The implications of this study take the form of the establishment of training and development programs for nascent and experienced deaf entrepreneurs/business owners; the expansion or the creation of networking opportunities for deaf entrepreneurs; the creation of formalized mentoring networks specifically for deaf entrepreneurs within existing programs; the exploration of use of technology to enhance entrepreneurial opportunities for deaf people; and the need to use deaf entrepreneurs as role models.

Areas for recommendations for future research are to further explore: 1) the concept of ethnic enclaves or a "deaf economy" in the context of the deaf community 2) the role of networking and mentoring for entrepreneurial and career success among deaf people 3) the role of access in the search of funding and capital 4) the use of social media for networking for deaf people 5) the concept of motivating and success factors for deaf entrepreneurs 6) the role of inhibiting factors for success of deaf people, and 7) the use of technology for access purposes.

As evidence shows, there is the increasing likelihood that entrepreneurship is becoming a more viable career option for deaf people, especially after they have gained some experience in a field of study of which they are passionate. Beyond the deaf community, there are possible concepts that may be transferrable to other marginalized groups.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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