Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mari V. Tinney


Succession planning is used to identify potential leadership vacancies, develop new leaders, and provide systems for knowledge transfer to ensure optimal functioning of the organization during leadership changes. Leaders in higher education have been reluctant to develop and implement succession planning. The local problem is that higher education leadership in a Western state has experienced aging leadership and a lack of succession planning. The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to examine the use of succession planning in 5 state universities in a Western U.S. state and to explore the leaders’ perceptions and experiences in the implementation of that planning using dynamic leadership succession theory and transformational leadership theory as the conceptual framework. The research questions focused on whether and how succession planning was occurring, in addition to leaders’ perceptions regarding the implementation and value of succession planning. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 2 dean-level or higher-level leaders at each of the 5 institutions. Data were collected from 10 semistructured interviews with leaders and document reviews of strategic plans and policies from the universities. Data were organized and coded in a case analysis and cross-case analysis. Results indicated no formal succession planning was occurring, although leaders were using parts of the process. Leaders reported barriers and successes to succession planning, which were used to develop a white paper to provide guidance for institutions of higher education to improve succession planning and leadership transitions for faculty, staff, and students.