Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Alyssa Cave



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher & Adult Education

Committee Chair

Wendy Griswold

Committee Member

Edith Gnanadass

Committee Member

Susan Nordstrom

Committee Member

William Akey


This qualitative case study focuses on the concept of systems thinking, which is a component of Peter Senge’s theory on learning organizations. Systems thinking is a concept and tool that assists organizations in understanding the growing complexities in their organization and in the world. The purpose of this case study is to gain a better understanding of the employee’s role in a systems thinking organization and understand what the public administrator can contribute to the systems thinking organizations in the nonprofit sector. In Senge’s work he rarely speaks to the role of the employee in a systems thinking organization. The aim of this case study was to determine if there are additional considerations related to systems thinking that can be made in the context of a nonprofit due to the constraints that are often faced in the nonprofit sector. While learning organizations and systems thinking have been studied in the private sector, the concept of learning organizations, more specifically systems thinking, has rarely been studied in the nonprofit sector. This case study took place within a nonprofit organization so that the perspective of the public administrator could be better understood. There were no findings in this research that supported the idea that the concept of systems thinking could not be used in the nonprofit sector or by the nonprofit public administrator. This research supported the understanding that an employee could use systems thinking practices to understand, sustain, and grow a systems thinking organization. Keywords: systems thinking, public administrator, learning organization


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access