Iva Vurdelja., Ph.D., is a 2011 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University

Dr, Vurdelia with her Dissertation Committee.

Left to Right [ Dr. Carol Baron, Committee Member, Dr. Jon Wergin, Committee Chair, Dr. Vurdelja, Dr. Linda Hoopes, Committee Member, Dr. Laurien Alexandre, Committee Member]

Dissertation Committee

  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Laurien Alexandre, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Carol Baron, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Daryl Conner, M.A., Committee Member
  • Linda Hoopes, Ph.D. Committee Member
  • Sara Nora Ross, Ph.D., External Reader


multiple case study, senior executives, complexity, CEOs, change leaders, adult cognitive development, change sponsorship, leading change, dialectical thinking, metasystemic thinking, business administration, cognitive psychology, management, developmental psychology, epistemology, business education

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The ability to lead complex organizational change is considered the most difficult leadership responsibility. Habitual linear thinking based on sequential procedural decision making is insufficient when responding to ambiguous and unpredictable challenges and interpreting systemic variables in the context of unforeseen problems, risks, and invisible interrelationships. The purpose of this exploratory multiple case study was to expand our understanding of the structure of the thinking employed by executive leaders as initiators and enablers of complex, large-scale organizational change. The researcher integrated knowledge of adult cognitive development and organizational leadership to examine the higher forms of reasoning abilities required for dealing with the complex and nonlinear nature of change. By using Laske‘s (2009) dialectical thought form (DTF) framework, the researcher explored the existence of dialectical thinking through structural analysis of interviews with 10 senior leaders who successfully transformed their respective organizations. Specifically, the study explored: (1) To what degree do the sponsors of organizational change engage in dialectical thinking in their work? (2) Is complexity of thinking related to complexity of sponsorship roles? (3) What phase of cognitive development must sponsors of transformational change attain to become effective change agents? (4) Does a higher level of dialectical thinking lead to more effective sponsorship of transformational, complex change? The results revealed that all 10 effective leaders were fully developed dialectical thinkers and that each one had a unique pattern of dialectical thinking. Data illustrated how metasystemic thinkers, despite their surface similarities, have deep epistemological differences that indicate profoundly different areas of strength and developmental needs. The potential application of the DTF framework as a developmental tool for expanding cognitive capabilities to deal with complex change is addressed and explored. The study opens an array of opportunities for another, richer way of looking at adult development. The electronic version of this dissertation is available in the open-access OhioLink ETD Center,


Iva Vurdelja, Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID :

Iva Vurdelja, PhD, serves as adjunct faculty member in the Management Department at Loyola University Chicago's Quinlan School of Business and is also the principal of Requisite Development LLC.

As a leadership and change consultant and a cognitive developmental coach, she works specifically with senior executive teams in enabling more effective strategy execution, change management, leadership and talent development. Iva's powerful approach strengthens leaders' and organizational capabilities through transformational learning and meta-systemic thinking. She presents new ways for executives, managers, and consultants to reflect on who they are as leaders, how they relate to and impact others, and how to challenge their organization to reach new levels of excellence. Her clients become dedicated to more effective leadership through personal and professional transformat ion. Clients report feeling that they have expanded their thinking to new dimensions, leading to a greater capacity to manage complexity, embrace challenges and improve relationships with their teams.

Iva's flagship coaching program, 'Thinking through Change' takes a 'whole-person-in-role' approach to leadership development using the Dialectical Thought- Form Framework as a guide for senior executives to become deeper thinkers and experience transformational change on a personal as well as professional level.

Prior to founding Requisite Development LLC, Iva has over 25 years' experience in strategy execution, change management and leadership development in both Fortune SO and not-for­ profit organizations. She also holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, an MSc in Organizational Development, a BA in Business and is a Master certified developmental coach. She is based in

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Requisite Development LLC