Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Robert O. Brinkerhoff

Second Advisor

Dr. Edward Pawlak

Third Advisor

Dr. David Cowden


The phenomenon of intuition includes insights and hunches, as well as the ability to pick up clues and to see patterns. The role of intuition in interpersonal relationships, in problem solving and decision making, and in creativity makes it an important cognitive faculty. As a complement to more systematic and deductive decision making, intuition provides creative insights, especially when people consciously acknowledge intuition.

This study focused on the experience of intuition as reported by 25 administrators in human service organizations. In face-to-face interviews, the 10 women and 15 men who were known to use intuition were asked open-ended questions about their use of intuition in the decision-making process. Interview data were analyzed for themes and patterns which could contribute to knowledge on intuition and the application of intuition in decision making by human service administrators.

Significant findings included the following: (a) intuition users generally go through four stages of intuition--preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification; (b) intuition is influenced by experience, familiarity, and global knowledge; (c) use of intuition in enhanced through interaction with others, which increases the opportunity to "pick up clues" about problems and possible solutions; (d) intuition pays an important role in the hiring process, and in sensing and resolving personnel problems; and (e) nonrepressive organizational climates facilitate intuitive thought.

This study supports the idea that intuition is a valued tool used by some human service administrators in making decision. Additional studies are needed of (a) the ways in which organizational climate enhances or inhibits use of intuition, (b) how intuition is used in the hiring process, and (c) how administrators and managers in other work settings use intuition.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access