Elizabeth Anne Valicenti is a 2012 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.


grounded theory, governance, board of directors, crisis and turnaround, dimensional analysis, nonprofit governance, board role in crisis, group process, board member perceptions, stepping up, recognizing signs of crisis, leadership

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The purpose of this grounded theory study was to develop an understanding of what board members experience during a time of organizational crisis. Major corporate and nonprofit failures of previously successful organizations in recent years have raised questions and led to speculation about the role of boards of directors through the crises. In this study twenty board members of nonprofit organizations who had experienced an organizational crisis during their board service were interviewed. Participants were asked to share their perceptions and explore how they identified and made meaning of the events and board processes that went on as the crisis became apparent and progressed. The overall research design was grounded theory guided by Schatzman’s and Charmaz’ methodological contributions. A dimensional analysis was employed to create explanatory matrices that focused on theory development. From dimensional analysis the core dimension, the Tangled Web, and primary dimensions Recognizing, Responding, and Stepping Up emerged. The model of a Tangled Web depicts the processes that obstruct a board’s ability to recognize and respond to signs of crisis. Complexity theory, governance, crisis and turnaround, and group process all contribute to the understanding of the research question. The electronic version of this dissertation is available through the OhioLink ETD Center,