School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Fred Milacci


Leadership, Qualitative Leadership Research, Spiritual Leadership, Theological Education, Theological Seminary Administration, Transcendental Phenomenology


Education | Educational Methods | Higher Education | Religion | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


This transcendental phenomenology describes the essential experiences of lead administrators of evangelical seminaries in German-speaking Europe. Changes on a global scale in the educational sector are influencing the seminaries, and lead to processes of organizational academization and leadership professionalization. These developments have a profound influence on the role of the leadership of these seminaries. Each of the six lead administrators was interviewed three times to gather in-depth, thick, and rich descriptions of their lived experience with the phenomenon. For triangulation, observations, analyses of documents, and audio and visual data, as well as research memos and journals were included. The theoretical frameworks of spiritual leadership, servant leadership, and workplace spirituality guided the investigative process. Four textures emerged that describe what the lead administrators experience in their role: (a) leading spiritually; (b) leading collaboratively; (c) leading professionally; and (d) leading academically. Furthermore, four structures describe how the participants experience the phenomenon of seminary leadership: (a) experiencing leadership as a responsibility; (b) experiencing the negative dimensions of leadership; (c) experiencing the positive dimensions of leadership; and (d) experiencing leadership as a spiritual calling. Finally, three essential experiences and three essential influences of the phenomenon could be synthesized from the textural and structural descriptions. The essential experiences include the experience of spirituality, significance and meaning, and relationship. The essential influences include professionalization, academization, and diversification. The findings corroborate the literature in several points, but also added to existing knowledge of the phenomenon of leading evangelical seminaries in German-speaking Europe.