Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Leslie Rebecca Bloom


This research study is about using the power of stories, specifically life history and narrative research approaches, to understand how three high level organizational leaders, or elites, experience their own development over time. Readers who will likely find this research study of value will be those studying life history and narrative approaches to understanding the meaning of lives, adult education and adult development scholars and practitioners interested in narrative as a method of adult development, and readers interested in understanding leaders' lives.;A life history of each of the three elites was collected. The life story section of this research study includes a discussion around the dynamics of representation, voice, subjectivity, researcher-researched relationships, and ethics. Common themes in the lives of these three leaders were strong families of origin, support and mentoring, conversation and debate, and risk and adventure.;Two exciting subtexts emerged out of the life story research. The first subtext was around the notion of living a balanced life. The leaders discuss the pace of their lives, their personal and professional identities, and their desire to live with commitment and purpose. Based on an analysis of the leaders' narratives, the goal of living with balance is reconceptualized to a paradigm of rhythm where chaos and complexity move together.;The second subtext is more directly related to adult development and adult learning. The most significant contribution of the entire research study may well be the narratives of development, transition, and learning documented over five years with one leader. Her developmental story, accompanied by an in-depth methodological and theoretical narrative analyses, contributes to the theory of narrative AS adult development and adult learning. This theory is critiqued and improved upon as a result of this research. This chapter also includes an analysis of the research relationship with questions of therapy or listening, friendship or relationship, and her story or my story.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Pamela Jones Edwards



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

247 pages