Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Dr. Hilda Shepeard


In the United States, approximately 7% of nonprofits' annual revenue is lost as a result of a lack of ethical financial operations among nonprofit executive directors (EDs). This represents $85 billion in estimated annual losses in available operating funds. This study addressed the problem of ineffective leadership in nonprofit organizations from the perspective of EDs responsible for ethical financial operations. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of nonprofit EDs who self-reported the use of 1 of Burn's and Bass' 3 leadership styles and whether leadership style influenced the use of the Sarbanes Oxley Act to manage the ethical financial operations of their human service nonprofit organization. Qualitative data were collected from 12 EDs through semi structured interviews and then coded and analyzed using a modified van Kaam procedure. The results of the study indicated that EDs who self-reported using transformational leadership style were more inclined to adhere to the Sarbanes Oxley Act. In addition, participants acknowledged the need for organizational support to improve leadership qualities in EDs, efficiency, and effective ethical financial operations in nonprofit organizations. The study provides a baseline for nonprofit organizations to increase positive social change by adding knowledge on implementing strategies that will result in the enhancement of quality leadership in EDs that may ultimately result in more efficient and effective ethical financial operations in nonprofit organizations.