This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Leading Through Culture Crisis: The Full Range - Adaptive Mixed Leadership Model




Bottomlee, James

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Political Science

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



The primary problem examined in this research project is that two popular leadership models in public administration and business management do not adequately account for the foundational aspect of properly defining problems and the critical role of the organizational hierarchy when describing or analyzing leadership behaviors. This dissertation relies on grounded theory techniques to recommend a new leadership model, as well as a longitudinal comparative case study with triangulation to investigate the proposed model within a contemporary phenomenon and real-life context. The Full Range - Adaptive Mixed (FRAM) Leadership Model illustrates how three levels of the leadership hierarchy should be aligned as they attempt to define the problem within their organization’s culture, and as they choose their leadership behaviors and actions in addressing the problem. The model also depicts how the leadership community’s intervention varies in effectiveness and how the leaders should use feedback and learning opportunities to adapt as the cycle repeats. The longitudinal case studies examine three different leadership levels at the U.S. Air Force Academy, as this public institution attempted to affect the persistent crisis involving sexual harassment and sexual assault. Focus group comments from 2007, 2011, and 2015 are examined using a qualitative coding process. Additionally, survey results from 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2016 are used as a method of triangulating the findings. One of the primary findings is that the leadership hierarchy was fundamentally aligned in their problem definition and leadership behaviors as they transitioned from technical problem definition requiring transactional leadership toward an adaptive problem definition more suited for a transformational approach. However, there were issues with ineffective laissez-faire leadership when intercollegiate athletes were suspected of unwanted sexual behaviors. Unexpectedly, while the focus group participants perceived the leadership interventions as being predominantly effective, the survey results reported increasing percentages of unwanted sexual contact. There are likely several factors affecting this disconnect. One factor may be the leadership’s over-reliance on transformational leadership with a student body population that experiences in influx of twenty-five percent new members annually. Another factor may be the rebound phenomenon from sexual assault literature that shows gains made against the unwanted sexual behaviors tend to erode over time. The FRAM Leadership Model depicts how leaders might learn from this feedback and adapt their problem definition, hierarchy alignment, and leadership behaviors to improve intervention effectiveness.