Small businesses are important to the United States economy, and yet the majority struggle to remain relevant and close prior to their fifth year. This qualitative phenomenological study explored small business closure in California by comparing the experiences of successful and unsuccessful small-business leaders, to understand their involvement with leadership during the early stages of the business, and the impact of this on the firms’ ability to survive. Participants’ experiences from two groups, successful and unsuccessful, were compared to glean an understanding of the leadership process, how leadership differs between the groups, and to see what themes or constructs emerged that could help to explain the high closure rate. This resulted in the development of 12 themes. The predominant themes were: small business closure can be caused by inability to motivate employees; by poor understanding and lack of attention to leadership, and by lack of relationship building skills. The dat

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Business failures -- California -- Case studies; Leadership -- Moral and ethical aspects -- Case studies; Small business -- Management -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Schmieder-Ramirez, June;