Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management

Committee Director

Andres Sousa-Poza

Committee Member

Adrian Gheorghe

Committee Member

Vickie Parsons

Committee Member

Trina Chytka


Boards of directors govern practically all organizations of significant size in the public and private sector. Improving the understanding of how boards function is critical because when boards fail, the results can be devastating. Little is understood about the functioning of boards of directors in the public sector, which accounts for a significant amount of the gross national product of the world's economy. The author observed a public sector board of directors for one year. Using the grounded theory research method to analyze the observations, he generated a theory of organizational strategic vitality that describes how a board of directors that is motivated to sustain its organization's strategic vitality will undertake actions to increase the board's effectiveness; strengthen relationships with customers, stakeholders, and partners; create an effective strategy; infuse the strategy throughout its organization; and evaluate and foster strategic performance. In addition, this study found that this public sector board's motivation was self-determined, that motivation affected the selection of the board's primary role, and that the other major roles of a board can become subservient to the primary role once chosen. In addition to these findings, organizational classism was identified as a major impediment to strategic implementation.