Carole A. Isom, Ph.D. is a 2010 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Carolyn Kenny, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Mitch Kusy, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Ancella Livers, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • James Calvin, Ph.D., External Reader


phenomenology, autoethnography, portraiture, leaders, employee, executives, corporations, business, management, organizations, workplace, layoffs, termination, unemployment, African-American, race, performance, discrimination, marginalization, Blacks

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This research addressed the question of whether or not the perception exists that African Americans are disproportionately impacted during layoff periods within corporations. Portraiture was the selected method of inquiry for this research as it captures the experience of the participants and enables storytelling which is based upon perception as opposed to hard, quantitative data. Additionally, portraiture’s autobiographical roots supported my autoethnographic position, encouraging the artistic process while including aesthetic aspects. Portraiture allowed for the voice of the researcher everywhere: in the assumptions, preoccupations, and frameworks brought to the inquiry; in the questions asked; in the data gathered; in the choice of story told; and in the language, cadence, and rhythm of the narrative (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Hoffmann Davis, 1997, p. 85). Phenomenological traditions and values are shared by the methods of ethnography and portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Hoffmann Davis, 1997, p. 13); this combination, in conjunction with my significant exposure to layoffs in corporate America, successfully captured the perception of the six participants and transformed their experiences within corporate America culture to interpretive life. Four concepts were considered as relevant dimensions of the perception: education, discrimination, marginalization, and work performance. The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible at the OhioLINK ETD Center,