Organization Development


Winter 12-28-2022

Degree Name

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

Type of Paper/Work



Rama Hart

Second Advisor

David Jamieson

Third Advisor

Patricia Conde-Brooks


This study explores and documents the experiences and life changes of women who belong to the fastest-growing racial-ethnic group. Between 2000 and 2019, the Asian population in America grew by 81 percent (Budiman & Ruiz, 2021). Asian American women account for 19 percent of all immigrants between 2010 and 2015 (Neilsen, 2017). Just under 40 percent of Asian-American women identify themselves as entrepreneurs, which is more than any other group of women in the United States (Neilsen, 2017).

This study presents the results of qualitative research that examines whether, and if so, how Hmong American women digital entrepreneurs embody the use of self (UoS) in their work. In-depth narrative inquiry is selected as the research methodology to explore Hmong women digital entrepreneurs’ stories of self-inquiry and personal growth. To elicit conversation, semi-structured open-ended interviews were conducted with five study participants. Participant story elements were compiled into fuller narratives coded for select elements within the stories and analyzed for themes across all of the stories.

The research draws on two theoretical foundations to examine both data collection and data analysis. The theories include the over-arching constructivist perspective known as symbolic interactionism and feminist standpoint theory. The philosophy that one’s comprehension of reality occurs with reflexive engagement upon life experience through interaction with others is used to guide this research study (Bazeley, 2021). C. Wright Mills (1959) refers to this as “the sociological imagination” (p. 5), which is the ability to comprehend one’s own lived experience and situate it temporally and contextually. Standpoint theory, says 2 that knowledge develops from and is determined by social position, addresses the underlying epistemological issues with normative models and structures that do not describe the experiences of women (Sorell & Montgomery, 2001). This perspective sheds light on larger issues such as voice, belonging, discourse, power, and issues central to female development.

The findings of this research reveal four broad themes that provide insight into similarities and differences in participant stories. The four themes that emerged from the data analysis include passion, connection, authenticity, and creative process. The participants in this study support previous findings that suggest there is an interconnectedness between participants’ identities, behavior, and stories. The construction of self online for these five women is not only an expression of their identity but also the embodiment of the best version of themselves. Furthermore, three main themes emerged as participants discussed how they engaged in self-inquiry and personal growth including critical self-reflection, outsider and well-being. As such, this study expands the research on use of self by studying Hmong American women, which is an understudied population and taking the research into the understudied context of digital media.

Creative Commons License

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