Universities across the United States desire to enhance their level of institutional prestige in order to recruit top students, hire outstanding faculty members, and increase financial support. The purpose of this study is to discover storytelling strategies for leading change in university prestige. This qualitative study utilized the Dynamic Narrative Approach in conducting interviews to collect data from university leaders whose titles included president, provost-vice president, and academic dean. The interview instrument consisted of semistructured questions, was reviewed for validity by a panel of experts, and was administered through the use of technology. A review and synthesis of the literature provided the constructs for a conceptual framework. A combination of the literature and the research findings produced a model of Storytelling Strategies for Leading Change in University Prestige. The data gathered and analyzed yielded 3 themes that served as a framework for using storytelling as a strategy for leading change in university prestige. The 3 major themes were sensemaking, framing, and restorying. Further, this study revealed strategies associated within each of the major themes, as demonstrated by higher education leaders specifically in leading efforts to increase university prestige. This study adds to the literature in the disciplines of storytelling and leadership, higher education leadership, organizational change in higher education, and strategic planning in higher education. Implications for higher education leaders and the universities they serve were also discussed. Limitations of this study along with research findings guided recommendations for future research, including but not limited to, conducting a longitudinal study to study the impact of storytelling as a strategy for leading change in university prestige over a designated period of time, and expanding the study to observe the use of storytelling in universities outside of the United States. Storytelling as a strategy for leading change within institutions of higher education to increase prestige helps constituencies make sense of change, frame the details surrounding change, and implement a new story and refocused vision for attaining increased prestige.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Organizational change

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hyatt, Laura;