A CASE STUDY IN CITIZEN LEADERSHIP DURING CRISIS: THE EXPERIENCES OF THE WOMEN OF THE STORM

Open Access
Author:
Kelly, Maurie Caitlin
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 19, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Rothwell, Dissertation Advisor
  • William J Rothwell, Committee Chair
  • Wesley Edward Donahue, Committee Member
  • Craig D Weidemann, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Eric Robert White, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • leadership development
  • leadership formative experiences
  • case study
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • leadership learning
  • crisis leadership
Abstract:
This qualitative case study explores the experiences of members of the organization known as the Women of the Storm who in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, stepped into the vacuum of traditional leadership to bring members of Congress and funding to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The research questions guiding this study center on leadership during times of crisis and sought to explore how the events related to Katrina influenced the rise to leadership of the participants. The study also explores the relationship of leadership formative and learning experiences among the participants as they relate to leadership development and its emergence in the wake of Katrina. The analysis of data resulted in the emergence of six primary themes: 1) the impact and extent of Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing crises, 2) the vacuum of leadership after Katrina and the ensuing consideration of what leadership means, 3) the role of Women of the Storm throughout the Katrina crisis, 4) the experiences related to leadership development, 5) the emergence of citizen leaders, and 6) networking among people. These themes were synthesized into four areas of discussion. First, the experiences and perspectives of the participants offer a unique, first hand, framework for exploring what leadership means in a time of crisis. Second, these same experiences begin to shed new light on the role of citizens and emergent organizations in times of crisis. Third, the participants’ reflections on experiences related to leadership development provide a bridge between the ideas related to how leadership is learned and how these experiences become meaningful during times of crisis. Finally, the ability of the citizens to utilize and build new social networks demonstrates the value of social capital in times of crisis. The results reflect a need for further qualitative research into crisis leadership as well as the opportunity to further examine the leadership role of citizens in crisis situations.