Dr. Julie Johnson is a 2012 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership & Change at Antioch University.

Listen to the Author Introduction to this Dissertation

Dr. Johnson [Center] with Committee Member, Dr. Lize Booysen [Left] and Chair, Dr. Carol Baron [Right]


leadership, leader development, leadership development, museums, museum leaders, nonprofit, transfer of learning, workplace learning, change, dimenions of a learning organization questionnaire, leadershp orientations instrument, mixed-methods research

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Given the rapid changes that 21st century museums must manage, flexible thinking about leadership forms and purposes is needed. Today's complex leadership landscape necessitates that staff engage in enacting leadership with positional leaders. Limited empirical literature exists that describes how the next generation of museum leaders is being nurtured and developed. The purpose of this study was to: describe museum professionals' perceptions of leadership practices; investigate museums as sites of organizational and leadership learning; and consider the experiences of museum professionals who have participated in leader development programs. The study involved an on-line survey with 310 professionals working in U.S. museums and follow-up interviews with a subset of 13 survey participants. Bolman and Deal's (1990) Leadership Orientations Inventory (BDLO) was used to assess museum leadership practices; Marsick and Watkins (1999) 21-item version Dimensions of a Learning Organization Questionnaire (DLOQ-A) was used to assess supports for learning in the museum. Findings based on bivariate correlation and multiple regression analysis show a significant relationship between ratings for leadership effectiveness at the department and organization levels and scores on the BDLO and the DLOQ-A. While leadership effectiveness at both levels tended to be positive, over 60% of middle and non-managers did not perceive their museum’s leadership as mastering any of the BDLO Leadership Orientations Inventory frames. Statistically significant differences in the perception of museums as learning organizations were found with decreasing support from senior managers to middle managers to non-managers. With regard to learning leadership, findings indicate that the DLOQ-A Strategic Leadership for Learning dimension, Organization Support, and Peer Support are important for facilitating continued learning and application of new knowledge and skills derived from leader development programs. Finally, most leader development program participants indicated that they were immediately able to apply some skills learned; however sustaining incorporation of new knowledge was difficult. Implications for museum professionals, leader development program providers, museum studies programs, leadership and change, and future research are discussed. A digital introduction accompanies this dissertation. The electronic version of this dissertation is at OhioLink ETD Center,


This dissertation is accompanied by an audio author introduction.