This descriptive phenomenological study explored the perceptions and
experiences of followers in the development of the leader-follower relationship, within a
long-term health care environment. This study is also framed within the disciplinary
context of human resource development (HRD).
This study addressed the research question, “During your first year of
employment, what has the experience of getting to know your supervisor been like?” This
broad question was intended to allow participants to engage their own mental models of
who they relate to as their supervisor and what the process of getting to know them has
The methodology of the study utilized one-to-one in-depth phenomenological
interviews for data collection. The participants were 13 Certified Nursing Assistants from
six different long-term health care facilities employed with Golden Living organization
between six months and one year.
The study utilized an approach to data collection and analysis developed by
Giorgi (1997) that employed five basic qualitative steps: 1) collecting verbal data, 2)
reading the data, 3) breaking the data in to parts, 4) organizing and expressing the data
from a disciplinary perspective, and 5) synthesizing and summarizing the data. The data
analysis revealed five significant themes of meaning: (1) Direct contact and assistance are
important; (2) Supervisors treat us differently based on certain follower behaviors; (3)
Personal conversation is important: (4) Follower competence affects relationships; and
(5) ED/DNS leader-follower relationships are primarily transactional and often
intimidating for CNAs. The interrelationships among these meanings are then presented as an integrated description of the essential structure of the meaning of this experience for
Because this study is framed within a disciplinary context of human resource
development, there is an implied theory-to-practice stance. The HRD disciplinary context
of this study proposes a framework for sharing and synthesizing this information to
leaders so they may appropriate the findings in a personal way as part of their own
developmental process. Transformational learning theory in the cognitive-rational model,
as developed by Mezirow (1978, 1990, 1991) is considered as useful for synthesizing the
transformational development process and phenomenological findings from a study of
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2010. Major: Education, Work/Community/Family Education. Advisor: Gary N. McLean. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 175 pages, appendices A-I.
Experiences of Followers in the development of the leader-follower relationship in long-term health care: a phenomenological study..
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