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Bob Long, Ph.D. is a 2019 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dr. Long at his Dissertation Defense.

L-R: Dr. Elizabeth Holloway, Committee Chair, Dr. Laurien Alexandre, Committee Member, Dr. Patrick Smith (not shown), Committee Member.

Dissertation Committee

  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Laurien Alexandre, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Patrick Smith, Ph.D., Committee Member


mayor, chief administrative officer, grounded theory, relationship functionality, relational leadership, municipality, local government, British Columbia

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This study attempts to understand how the functionality of the mayor-chief administrator officer (CAO) relationship impacts the ongoing operation of these two local government positions. Looking at the structural and interpersonal aspects of the lived experience of this relationship enlightens us as to the manner in which the relationship functions. A review is made of literature on local government, generally, and on the separate roles of mayors and CAOs as well as the limited research on how their relationships operate. General relationship and leadership scholarship is used to better understand this specific relationship and its nuanced social processes. Qualitative research and, specifically, grounded theory, it is argued, is the best way to probe and better understand social processes. Thus, I used a grounded theory approach to discover a constructivist theory of how the mayor-CAO dyad operates and how certain aspects of the relationship lead to functionality. The research uncovered the primary relationship dimensions of: negotiating, strategizing, boundary setting, power sharing and harmonizing. The core relationship dimension that also contributes to the relationship’s functionality was “shapeshifting”. A heuristic model of the relationship was developed that also includes the temporal context of the relationship. Three theoretical propositions are made regarding the mayor-CAO relationship, these are: the interpersonal relationship is nested within its structural and temporal context, intersectionality and reconciliation of structural and interpersonal aspects of the relationship lead to functionality and the relationship’s collective shapeshifting capacity also contributes to functionality. The interpersonal dimensional nuances (not investigated in any earlier academic research with regards to this specific relationship) contributed to a much better understanding of how the mayor-CAO relationship functions. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, OhioLINK ETD Center,


Bob Long, Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0002-7532-5180

Robert was born in Prince Rupert in the early 1950’s. He is named after his uncle who passed away before he reached his 20’s succumbing to rheumatic fever.

Robert has acted as a City Manager for numerous municipalities and regional districts within British Columbia for over 35 years mostly acting as the chief administrative officer. Robert is renowned for his out spoken approach to local government management and his intimate knowledge of politics. He has many mentees throughout BC and the NWT that attest to his ability to develop effective municipal teams, positive organizational approaches and high performing cultures.

Bob as he is commonly known, is also a fisherman having published a book called “ Fishing the Queen Charlotte Islands” in the 1980’s after living on these remote islands (now called Haida Gwaii), for 10 years. Bob pioneered fishing coho (silvers) salmon with a skipping surface fly and was a capable steelhead fisherman once lending President Jimmy Carter a special fly he tied himself for the president. Carter reciprocated by thanking Bob in one of the president’s own fishing books because the fly worked so well.

Bob also has flown a 1953 Super Cub, for pleasure, since the early 1980’s. Flying on floats, wheels and skis, Bob’s adventures are numerous. His most memorable flying involved ski flying in the Chilcotin Plateau and flying floats in the arctic out Great Slave Lake in the North West Territories of Canada.

Bob’s love of the outdoors is matched by his interest in academia where in his 50’s received a Master’s Degree in Political Science from University of Northern British Columbia and subsequently in his 60’s a Master’s and PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University in the United States.

Bob has been married to Sherry for 43 years and has two children Erica and Richard. Bob and Sherry are blessed with one grandson Austin, from Richard and Allison.

Passion and eclectic interests regarding the human condition and the outdoor environment have fueled Bob’s life of interesting outcomes. As Sherry has said many times her life has been an “adventure with Bob”.