Date of Award



© 2020 Theresa O'Neil

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Ann Lee

Second Advisor

Ashwini Wagle

Third Advisor

Connie Seymour


The study addresses the problem of the limited understanding of physical therapists' perspectives on leadership orientations. The purpose of this mixed-methods case study was to expand on the understanding of physical therapists’ perceptions of leadership orientations. The methods used were the Bolman and Deal Leadership Orientations Inquiry (Self) survey and phone interviews describing a leadership experience. The research questions were: To what degree do physical therapists exhibit multi-frame leadership as defined by Bolman and Deal? To what degree do physical therapists use each of the four frames as defined by Bolman and Deal, Structural, Human Resources, Political and Symbolic? What leadership frames as defined by Bolman and Deal are utilized the least by physical therapists? What is the leadership frame as defined by Bolman and Deal that physical therapists predominately use when confronted with leadership challenges? The participants were physical therapists working from December 2019 to March 2020 in the outpatient department of rehabilitation services in the US. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected with the Bolman and Deal Leadership Orientations Inquiry (Self) survey and phone interview. The study had a 94% response rate for the survey and a 70% response rate for the phone interview. Frame Use from the survey data showed the HR frame most used, followed by Structure than Political and last Symbolic. The consistent frame use results were HR 88% of the time, Structure 47% of the time followed by both Political and Symbolic 17.6% of the time. Multi-frame use was 29% of the time as defined as the consistent use of three or more frames. Section 3 findings were that physical therapists described themselves more frequently as leaders than managers. Emerging themes from the qualitative data showed that 58% of the leadership experiences were from the Structural Frame. The actions and issues described in the leadership experiences were consistently described 100% of the time from the HR and Structure frames. Multi-frame use for the interview data was found to be 58% of the time. Recommendations for future research would be to further physical therapists’ leadership perceptions working in the United States using Bolman and Deal’s four-frame model and LOI (self) across a large healthcare organization and healthcare system.


Ed.D. Dissertation