Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Wendy Andberg


Without adequate succession planning (SP) for executive directors, nonprofit organizations risk losing their mission and direction and their ability to sustain the quality of program and services and maintain superior leadership. The purpose of this study was to determine the degree to which SP was being developed and implemented in community action agencies (CAAs) in a southern state. This study also focused on the challenges that these organizations experienced from not implementing SP. This single case study design was based on the theoretical framework of organizational change, using Lewin's 3-stage model. Identified through purposive and snowball sampling, 17 participants from 5 CAAs in a southern state were interviewed using semi structured questions. Both primary interview data and secondary data were analyzed through constant comparison and the identification of themes and patterns, and verified through triangulation, member-checking, and pattern-matching. Secondary data consisted of succession plans, annual reports, bylaws, boards of directors' minutes, IRS 990s, and strategic plans. Findings revealed that 3 of the CAAs under study had a succession plan in place, while 2 did not. The challenges that these CAAs experienced from not implementing SP focused on 5 primary themes: organizational identity, sustainability, salaries, governance, and leadership development. The implications for social change include informing the southern state's CAA leaders, funders, and other stakeholders about the importance of developing written succession plans, integrating SP with leadership development and executive transitioning practices, and the long-term benefits of having these plans in place.