Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Ralph C. Chandler

Second Advisor

Dr. David S. Deshon

Third Advisor

Dr. William F. Grimshaw


Organizational life and social culture compel individuals toward more radical manifestations of individualism as bureaucracy and society increasingly define personal relationships by rules, regulations and rights. Otherwise incompatible with individualism, this actually contributes to individual and group differentiation when individuals function simply as technicians without the opportunity to gain fulfillment, and they experience existential isolation, becoming detached from their moral and spiritual side. For identity in and control over their own lives, people engage in even more individualistic behavior: working, planning, attaining, or rebelling. The true meanings of freedom and individual rights are perverted and trivialized by this radical individualism as a way of fighting back, but it too has corrosive effects that diminish individual autonomy.

Through a history of individualism culled from U.S. history and the history of Western philosophy, this paper describes what role the individual played in philosophical and political thought from the early Greek and Western religious influences up to and including modern times. The purpose of this research is to (a) develop a theoretical, normative model of authentic individualism—a journeyman philosophy that can be adopted by the individual citizen and public administrator as a basis for action; and (b) consider the ramifications of that model for organizational theory, leadership theory, and ethics in government.

The resulting model of authentic individualism focuses on self only in the context of social responsibility and larger considerations of the whole. An other-regarding world view emerges from this model whose essence is in human dignity and commonalty and which: (a) judges every decision by whether it protects or undermines the dignity of the human person; (b) teaches government and organizational leaders to view people as morally developmental individuals driven by values, principles and the desire to do good rather than acquisitive wants, needs, and desires for goods; (c) forces organizations to take a greater societal role with the same responsibility toward others as is expected of individuals; (d) helps managers define their organizations to facilitate total personhood, rather than to demean the individual by treating humans as property; and (e) defines management as a sacred trust for the well-being of others placed in one's care.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access