Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career and Higher Education

Major Professor

Waynne B. James, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Donald A. Dellow, Ed.D.

Committee Member

William Young, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey Kromrey, Ph.D.


leadership development, appreciative inquiry, qualitative, iterative analysis, multiple case study


Researchers in the field of global leadership have reported a growing need for leaders able to perform from a global perspective, and the lack of qualified leadership candidates to fulfill these responsibilities. Adult education graduate programs represent a unique pool of aspirants to help fill this gap. In 2008, the Commission of Professors of Adult Education (CPAE) published Standards for Graduate Programs in Adult Education. Two of these standards addressed the incorporation of globalization and leadership studies into the planning, administration, and evaluation of adult education graduate programs. This study sought to explore the connection between the phenomenon of global leadership and the development of competencies, identified by Bird’s (2013) framework of nested global leadership competencies, in seven selected adult education graduate programs in the United States and Western Europe.

The questions that guided this qualitative, multiple case study explored (a) which of the competencies were addressed in the selected adult education graduate programs, (b) which ones were perceived to be most and less important, (c) which curricular and co-curricular practices were identified in the development of these competencies, and (d) what were the similarities and differences between the adult education graduate programs located geographically in the United States and those located in Western Europe.

Findings indicated all of the global leadership competencies were addressed across all seven cases, to varying levels of extent. The competencies of (a) valuing people, (b) inquisitiveness, (c) leading change, and (d) vision and strategic thinking emerged as most important among the participants across all seven cases, as well as within the two geographical locations. Multiple curricular and co-curricular themes emerged as best practices to facilitate development of the global leadership competencies, although they were primarily associated with good instructional practices discussed within the context of globalizing the curriculum. There was less discussion about the competencies within a unifying construct of leadership development. Similarities across all cases included a focus on student-centered learning, while differences were primarily associated with the independent foci of the adult education graduate programs. Implications of the findings were directed towards the CPAE, university administration, adult education faculty, and adult education graduate students.