Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Family and Consumer Sciences Education and Studies

First Advisor

Cheryl Hausafus

Second Advisor

Karen Shirer


As family and consumer sciences professionals begin to consider changes in the profession or their individual organizations, an understanding of organizational change and organizational change processes becomes an essential leadership skill (McGregor, 1997). To better overcome resistance to change and create sustained change, the leaders and their staff must learn to examine their personal and the organization's assumptions and alter those assumptions that limit the change process (Argyris, 1997). The purpose of this research is to examine the individual and organizational assumptions that contribute to or inhibit Extension staff programming efforts with at-risk audiences. The research will also aid leadership as they seek to understand organizational change and the organizational change process;In the fall of 1995, three focus groups were conducted with Extension field specialists and county Extension directors. The groups included staff who were not directly involved in at-risk programming and staff with primary responsibility for at-risk programming. A focus group script was developed that contained questions designed to elicit participants' perceptions and opinions about key characteristics of successful at-risk programming, typical or potential barriers to successful programming, and staff development training needs. All focus groups discussions were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using the software program NUD*IST. Analysis of the focus group data involved: narrowing the collected data; organizing the data for analysis; identifying emerging themes, and drawing and verifying conclusions;Extension staff describe working with at-risk audiences as a major change in program priorities and question administrative and other key stakeholder support for this change. Underlying assumptions related to individual, organizational structure, organizational culture, and leadership factors that inhibited the organization's ability to change are identified. The study identifies a lack of clarity about the term "at-risk" and skepticism among the Extension staff as to the relationship between at-risk programming and traditional Extension programming efforts;This study demonstrates that to create meaningful and sustained change in an organization, individual and organizational assumptions need to be exposed. ISUE staff need training opportunities that expose their assumptions and change their perceptions about working with at-risk audiences. However, the study reveals that providing additional staff development training or new job descriptions is not sufficient in itself to sustain organizational change. Issues pertinent to the organizational leadership and culture also need to be addressed in the change process.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Diane Kay Klemme



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

218 pages