As the world becomes increasingly interconnected through intricate networks in technology-laden environments, leadership has become exponentially more complex. This VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) context disrupts long-held leadership constructs. Historically, leaders have been able to reflect on past decision making to guide their current and future decisions. No longer is this practice viable; leaders now require new skills to lead competently in this rapidly iterating ecosystem. With its challenges, this dynamic environment also offers opportunities for those who are able to capitalize on the next waves of disruption. Social entrepreneurs, tackling the world's most pressing challenges, are leading systems-wide changes within this technology-driven context. With a heightened awareness of these global issues, employing contextual intelligence to capitalize on new and innovative social solutions through creative destruction enables leaders to exploit this technology-rich landscape to expand their social impact. Consequently, this phenomenological qualitative study utilized semi-structured interviews to investigate the best practices and strategies employed by Ashoka Fellow social entrepreneurs who are leading change successfully within this VUCA context. In addition, this study explored the challenges these entrepreneurs encountered while leading, the ways in which they evaluated their success, the role that technology played day-to-day, and what recommendations they would make to future leaders of systems-wide change. Through this study, 30 key findings surfaced in relation to successful practices and strategies for leading systems-wide change in a technology-riche VUCA ecosystem.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Leadership; Management; Technological innovations; Social entrepreneurship

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Fraizer, Lani;