Date of Award



© 2015 William Cowen

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Carol Holmquist

Second Advisor

Michelle Collay


Social entrepreneurs actively create and apply business and communication strategies to support societal causes. They face many leadership and logistics challenges including the need to balance simultaneously mission advocacy and enterprise administration. This qualitative, phenomenological study examines how social entrepreneurs experience intrapersonal communication, conversations within oneself, as a self-leadership strategy that impacts mission and constituents. Within the vast intrapersonal communication field, this study specifically explored the concepts of self-talk, inner voice and inner dialogue, as well as imagined interactions, where conversations are rehearsed or replayed for perceived strategic advantage. The literature examined showed intrapersonal communication, self-leadership and social entrepreneurship all to be in states of their own development, which offered opportunity for the study to contribute to the evolving knowledge in each of these areas. To understand this phenomenon, face-to-face, in-depth interviews were conducted with 12 social entrepreneur participants. Major findings included descriptions of the experience of intrapersonal communication for strategy and planning; reflection and learning opportunities; specific communication scenario preparation and post-analysis; and self-regulation. This study provides valuable insight to social entrepreneurs, signifying intrapersonal communication as a powerful tool to engage in their respective leadership roles.


Ed.D. Dissertation