Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Bisk College of Business

First Advisor

Abram L. J. Walton

Second Advisor

Robert Schaller

Third Advisor

Shellie Halstead

Fourth Advisor

Alexander R. Vamosi


As technology advances, businesses find that today's information age is increasingly complex. If an enterprise can prepare the workforce to succeed in a complex environment, it will have a competitive advantage. Complexity is characterized by unpredictability, no recognizable patterns, and nonlinear causes and effects, creating unique challenges for today's workforce. The core or overarching research question that guides the research is: In complex environments, what are the experiences of leaders and team members who use enabling leadership and experiential learning to influence emergent outcomes, and how does it create organizational knowhow? In this constructivist grounded theory study, the efficacy of synchronizing enabling leadership and experiential learning was examined by interviewing 27 participants who work in complex environments. The interview narratives were analyzed and coded into categories and themes.

This study identified three emergent themes: Breaking through the Uncertainty Barrier, Exploiting Capability and Organizational Structure, and Empowering Leadership. An uncertainty breakthrough model was developed from the data and offered a path to navigate through complexity successfully. The findings emphasized the importance of recognizing operations in a complex environment and taking appropriate steps to navigate uncertainty. The implications and recommendations of this study stress the importance of aligning organizational systems and structures to operate in complexity. Furthermore, competency training is necessary but not sufficient to operate in complexity. Additional training in complexity coupled with enabling leadership and experiential learning can extend the organizational capacity to operate in a complex environment. This research provides the practitioner guidance and recommendations. This study contributes to the literature on influencing emergent outcomes and creating organizational knowhow by focusing on the approach needed to navigate complexity.


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