Derek Pelland


Senior-level EU civil leadership is fundamental to providing current and future generations of European leaders with the training, mentorship and work environment they need to succeed in sustaining the EU system. To be successful in the EU service, aspiring leaders must clearly set and revise a common vision, lead by example, incorporate diversified communication, and work to establish a sense of belonging and work culture to their staff. The purpose of this study was to determine what EU civil institutions can do to prepare their current staff and future generations of students to enter a career in public leadership and ascend to reach senior-level positions. This purpose was achieved by identifying strategies and best practices that current senior-level leaders at EU civil institutions have employed while transitioning into their current or past roles. Data were collected from 15 senior-level leaders among the EU civil institutions and public agencies. This was done in the form of a 11-question, semi-structured interview format, which focused on their past experiences, lessons learned and future orientation towards EU civil service careers. The key findings of the study yielded 49 themes that answered 4 research questions. In particular, building a work culture and guiding multicultural staff was the primary challenge associated with senior-level EU leadership. Additionally, study participants indicated that they face resistance to change on a constant basis, and that effective communication is highly valued. As a result of the study findings, senior-level EU leaders have collectively mentioned that having a mentor, taking part in internships, and learning additional languages will be especially helpful for emerging generations of civil leaders. Specifically, for those currently studying, the framework indicated from the participants would allow them to take action and act with passion towards their goals. For mid-level leadership looking to transition upward, these suggestions provide insight into the big picture view of EU bureaucracy and public service.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; European Union -- Leadership -- Case studies; Organizational leadership -- Europe -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin;