Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department


First Advisor

Gina S. Matkin

Date of this Version

Summer 8-2021


Thompson, H. (2021). Making sense of inclusive leadership in public higher education: An interpretative phenomenological analysis [Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences (Leadership Studies), Under the Supervision of Professor Gina S. Matkin. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Herbert L. Thompson III


This study’s purpose was to generate a context-specific analysis and description of the inclusion process at a Midwestern university, and how leaders make sense of said process. The participants in this study are members of an inclusion training program; these participants represent the perspective of stakeholders as well as designated leadership for organizational inclusion. This study utilized Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Data generation occurred through a series of semi-structured interviews. Analysis of data provided a detailed description of the sense making of inclusive leadership is provided to explain how educators experience the phenomenon contextually. Five superordinate themes emerged from this study, (a) inclusion is a journey of growth for educators, (b) complications in the ideals of inclusion, (c) open-mindedness is essential to the practice of inclusive leadership, (d) experiences of exclusion largely frame inclusion and its importance, and (e) higher education is positioned to help in the effort of inclusion. A discussion of these findings is provided along with implications and recommendations.

Adviser: Gina S. Matkin