Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Interdisciplinary Education

Major Professor

Ellen Kimmel, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kathy Borman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wiliam Katzenmeyer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Howard Johnston, Ph.D.


commitment, top down, learning community, change, goal


This study explored the impact of an imposed standards movement on attitudes and behaviors of a team of line leaders. A case method was employed to describe, to explain, and to draw conclusions about results of standards imposition. Standards were designed and implemented by an executive leadership team frustrated with lack of effective leadership practices of a line leaders team under their supervision. The investigation took an historical perspective, chronicling the story of the company, emerging leadership challenges, and executive leadership responses leading up to the research.

The line or team leaders of an educational software company served as participants. Data were archival, gathered through consultation via focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, and fieldwork journal notes. Verbatim responses to protocols were used as evidence of leadership practices. The structure of leading in professional communities espoused by Senge, Greenleaf, Bennis, Kouzes, Posner, and others informed data analysis of team leaders’ responses to imposed standards.

Results revealed six themes: Positive Attitude toward Learning; Positive Attitude toward Peer Learning Groups; Increased Skill, Performance, Satisfaction, and Confidence resulting from imposed standards; Shift from Negative Attitude toward Change; team leaders’ Commitment to Imposed Goals as a work requirement; and Loss of Advantages Gained from Standards Imposition over time due to removal of the learning requirement.

This research adds to the literature available for leaders in relation to designing responses to emergent resistance toward accomplishing imposed standards. Team leaders identified the learner ethic as a leadership attribute crystallized by the standards imposition movement. Although leaders believed in learning, they developed heightened awareness regarding the importance of learning as a survival tactic for themselves and the company.