Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Peter Kobrak

Second Advisor

Dr. Barbara Liggett

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Whitty


The purpose of this qualitative study is to apply Sashkin’s Visionary Leadership model to City Managers, with an emphasis on how the city manager puts the vision into action in local government. There is much talk that government leaders need to have a vision so that their organization will work more efficiently and effectively. More government agencies should seek to instill visionary leadership, much as a growing number of businesses have done. The City Manager must cope with sweeping changes in city government that have resulted from rapid growth, elected officials’ expectations, new technology, unions, citizen demands, and the need for financial viability. The need for city governments to change themselves calls into question the issue of leadership. This study investigates the relationship between the City Manager’s leadership and his or her ability to implement the city’s vision. It asks the question, “How does a City Manager put the vision of the city into action?” This study identified the factors that have enhanced or hindered the City Managers' use of Visionary Leadership. Qualitative methods were used to understand, as well as to give voice to their experiences. The flexibility of qualitative methods provided the researcher with the ability to engage the participants in the study. The research design used in this study follows recommendations of Creswell (1998) and Tashakkori and Teddlie (1998) on how to conduct a phenomenological study. The approach was to describe the events as the City Managers encountered them. The data were collected by holding interviews with City Managers, Council members, Municipal Association Officials, and Department Directors, and by attending city council meetings. In addition, the researcher examined newspaper articles written about the city and city manager, and reviewed city documents. The interviewees had a great deal of experience working in local government They shared the skills, provisions, and abilities that in their opinion were important throughout their experiences to put a vision into action. The study classified the themes that emerged from the interviewees’ statements into eight categories: communications, council relations, empowerment, commitment, shared vision, leadership, planning, and teamwork. These attributes and provisions are what, in the City Managers' opinion, will lead to implementing the city vision.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access