Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Education




Faubert, Brenton


The research study examined leadership in one post-secondary educational organization through the lens of complexity theory. The post-secondary educational organization in this study is a complex adaptive system that is entangled in uncertainty, non-linearity, and interconnectivity, where the system is under constant change and predictions based on past practice are not always possible. Leaders in this context do not have the luxury to rely primarily on history, best practices, or simplistic linear solutions in response to their challenges. This dissertation focuses on providing a connection between educational leadership and complexity theory, so that the latter can strengthen investigation of the former, within a complex adaptive system.

This research project used an exploratory qualitative case study methodology grounded in the interpretive paradigm. The dataset was comprised of 11 semi-structured interviews and an examination of organizational documents bounded by the case. Thematic analysis of the dataset provided insight into leadership within complexity. The findings in this research study make a contribution to the literature by exploring how leadership can nurture the adaptive space found in the complex contexts. Specifically, these findings demonstrate that educational leaders, all educational leaders in formal, informal, and emergent roles, are positioned to enable this adaptive space, with which they are a part of. Implications to practice and recommendations for future research are discussed.