Date of Conferral







Robert D. Levasseur


In Kenya, over 60% of nascent entrepreneurs start businesses with minimal leadership experience, engendering founder-CEOs who cannot sustain a business beyond its formative years. The problem is the nascent entrepreneurs’ lack of understanding of effective leadership. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to develop a more nuanced understanding of authentic leadership behavior from the perspective of nascent entrepreneurs. Authentic leadership theory and the three-factor model were used to conceptualize the study. The research question focused on nascent entrepreneurs’ lived experiences and understanding of authentic leadership. The participants in the study were entrepreneurs from the information technology industry in Kenya aged 18 to 29 who had operated a business for at least 2 years. In-depth, semistructured interviews of a purposeful sample of 10 founder-CEOs and a review of archival documents yielded the study data. Phenomenological data analysis involving the application of the hermeneutic circle and the constant comparison method yielded eight themes: unbiased information sharing, relational openness and transparency, values-centered leadership, people-oriented leadership, self-leadership, purpose-driven leadership, futuristic mindset, and learning culture. A recommendation for further research is to explore authentic leadership across other economic sectors to determine its importance in enhancing positive venture outcomes. The study findings could contribute to positive social change by providing strategies that can improve entrepreneurial leadership and business practices to enhance venture outcomes, growth, and sustainability.