Date of Conferral
Donna K. Brown
Leaders often lack strategies to create supportive and accommodating workplaces that capitalize on the unique skillset of autistic employees. Research has shown that employers benefit from creating supports; however, there is a lack of research on how or why organization leaders provide support and accommodations. The purpose of this descriptive case study was to identify leaders' strategies for supporting autistic employees. The research question centered on managements' support and accommodations for employees while capitalizing on their strengths. The conceptual framework included labor process to address management extracting benefits from labor, and resource-based theory to examine gaining a competitive advantage by using rare resources. Purposive sampling was used to select 11 leaders, managers, or frontline supervisors for in-person semistructured interviews from a northern Illinois organization that recruits and hires employees with autism. Other data sources for triangulation included communications, manuals, observations, photos, artifacts, and field notes following Yin's 5-step analytic model. Eight themes emerged: (a) advocating for self and others; (b) mission, vision, values, and social responsibility; (c) autism challenges; (d) nonphysical support; (e) physical accommodations; (f) policies, procedures, and funding; (g) support personnel; and (h) unique skillset. The results encompass a mission-driven approach to support and accommodation. This study contributes to social change by demonstrating how managers can use disabled employees and assist them in becoming productive members in the workplace and society, while gaining a feeling of self-worth, dignity, and independence. This reduces the burden on taxpayers for care.