Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

First Advisor

Joseph B. Berger

Second Advisor

John V. Lombardi

Third Advisor

Mary Deane Sorcinelli

Subject Categories

Education | Higher Education Administration


In the corporate world, leaders typically plan for succession, carefully grooming their heir apparent. In academia, however, it is rare for such planning to occur at the institutional level, much less the departmental level. This multiple case study explores how twelve department chairs in one public research university think about leadership development for their departments. While succession planning - as defined in traditional management literature - does not occur in academic departments, current chairs are active in promoting leadership continuity - purposefully preparing and cultivating potential leaders who have the skills and knowledge to most readily step in as chair so that departments can maintain momentum even during times of leadership transition. There are three dimensions that have been derived from the analysis: context, process, and person. This study describes how these three dimensions influence the ways in which chairs seek to enhance leadership capacity in their departments, provides policy and practice recommendations for institutions and departments to support these activities, and offers suggestions for future research in this critical area of academic leadership.