Date of Conferral







John K. Schmidt


Research on high-performing nonprofit boards has indicated a positive relationship between a board's strength and an organization's effectiveness; however, how boards achieve success remains relatively unknown. The Kirton adaption-innovation (KAI) theory was used to examine board members' cognitive styles in relationship to facilitating problem solving and decision making. This nonexperimental, quantitative study included archived nonprofit board data from 2 American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) studies that had addressed the high performance of boards and factors associated with organizational success. A total of 102 randomly selected, high-performing nonprofit board members completed the KAI Inventory, which was used to measure cognitive style on a continuum; participants also answered questions from the second ASAE study to indicate board performance. Correlational and regression analyses were used to determine whether cognitive style on problem solving and decision making predicted high performance of boards. Results showed that cognitive style was not a significant predictor of problem solving; however, participants with an innovation cognitive style provided answers to the decision-making performance questions that were noticeably lower than participants who were classified as adaption. Findings might be used by nonprofit board members to enhance individual growth, increase organizational agility, and improve problem solving for effective decision making to ensure nonprofit board excellence.