Date of Conferral
Changes in the top leadership position in U.S. airports occur frequently. The purpose of the present phenomenological study was to understand the shared, lived experiences of senior managers who work in a U.S. airport and who have undergone a change in the top leadership position. Airports are of critical importance to their local regions and communities and are economic engines for their respective regions. The results of the study may provide positive social change for airport staff and the surrounding community by drawing attention to the complexity in leadership transition. The study was grounded in organizational stress, uncertainty theory of stress, and person-environment fit theories. A purposive sampling method was used to recruit 11 participants who were senior managers at a U.S. airport and experienced a change in the top leadership position within the last 6 years. The interview data were analyzed using interpretive phenomenological reduction methods of epoche, eidetic reduction, and imaginative variation. Findings revealed that transitional leadership resulted in positive effects such as self-efficacy beliefs, commitment, and job satisfaction; it also resulted in negative effects such as disengagement, which appeared to be mediated by the active roles leaders took in meeting employee needs. Participants who valued their skills and contributions were better able to cope with changes and were more confident about their employment ability. This study contributes to positive social change by providing information for airport board members and staff to improve the process of hiring a CEO.