Hai Wright


Paradoxes, such as the co-existence of stability and continual change, are characteristic of a complex organization. The ability to adapt to change is a vital trait that leaders must acquire to embrace and integrate organizational paradoxes. The autonomous person is one who is best able to adapt to change. The cultivation of presence (CP) is an approach to developing autonomy that holds great promise in facilitating change. The central purpose of this research was to determine if CP was positively related to the fulfillment of the basic psychological need for autonomy. The study involved 14 alumni from graduate degree programs that taught CP skills within the context of a personal development group (lab or practicum). Participants were surveyed to determine whether changes in their level of awareness corresponded with changes in their level of autonomy. Six participants also were interviewed to determine if their ability to use CP skills positively related to their development of enhanced awareness, an indispensible characteristic of autonomy. This research provided some evidence to support the belief that an individual's level of autonomy is the result of changes in the level of awareness. Furthermore, this study provided some substantiation that CP is a viable means of enhancing awareness. This finding, along with literature, suggested that awareness contributes to autonomy and offers some support for the hypothesis that CP is positively related to the fulfillment of the basis psychological need for autonomy. Autonomy can be viewed as a vital characteristic of leadership. The CP approach to developing autonomy can be useful to organization development practitioners in equipping leaders for change. CP can be used in training efforts (e.g., workshops, coaching) as a basis for creating a learning experience that facilitates the development of autonomy, thus, enabling leaders to embrace change and integrate paradoxes in complex environments.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Research projects (MSOD); Organizational change; Autonomy (Psychology)

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Lacey, Miriam;