Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

August 1996


This study sought to examine leadership through the medium of film, specifically the genre of the western. The western is iconographic; representative of the American ethos, the western embodied the "frontier myth." The purposes of this study were to examine how leadership was portrayed in a selected sample of western films dating from 1945 to 1995, and to categorize and characterize the leadership methods exhibited in each film. Qualitative in design, the study was concerned with broad description and discovery. Using observation as the data collection technique and content analysis as the research method, the study examined a sample of 29 pre-selected western films released between 1945 and 1995. Individual samples displaying leadership dynamics were drawn from each film through the use of verbatims and character analysis. Each film was examined for examples of leadership in order to gain a better understanding of the role that leadership played in the western and to ascertain leadership models exhibited in the genre. Conclusions of the study emphasized the diverse portrayals of leadership exhibited through this genre. The western showed a depth of character in relation to leadership, displaying a variety of styles, motifs, and characteristics representative of several leadership theories. Some of the concepts of leadership, and the underlying theories and styles portrayed, revealed a universal quality about leadership that transcended theoretical research. The western was a multi-faceted venue through which to study leadership, providing a unique perspective on the dynamics involved in the leadership process both through theory and by praxis.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted