Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Audra Skukauskaite


Sharon Herbers


Norman St. Clair


Driven by the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in the United States, ethnic minorities will become the new majority group in the next 30 to 40 years. Yet, despite the substantial increase of Hispanics in this country, they remain underrepresented in senior leadership positions. This dissertation explored the perspectives of Hispanic male leaders to determine how they overcame barriers to successfully reach the senior leader levels. This topic is important for two reasons: (a) as U.S. businesses expand globally, they will need diverse leaders who can understand and relate to various cultures, and (b) with the increasing purchasing power of Hispanics, businesses will need Hispanic leaders to create effective strategies to capture this emerging market. The purpose of this qualitative interpretive study was to explore the perspectives of Hispanic men who successfully reached senior leadership positions. The research protocol consisted of open-ended interviews with 10 Hispanic male leaders who were purposefully selected from 4 different sectors: corporate, federal civil service, military, and academia. The interviews were conducted in 1-hour sessions and the data was analyzed using the Development Research Sequence. Analysis revealed 7 domains and 3 taxonomies relevant to the purpose of the study and research questions. The domains included (1) encountering structural disadvantages, (2) having role models, (3) capitalizing on opportunities, (4) being intrinsically driven, (5) knowing how to lead, (6) understanding the importance of mentors, and (7) belonging to a network. The relationships among domains were further examined to construct the 3 taxonomies of (a) becoming competitive, (b) becoming a leader, and (c) developing professional relationships. These findings were considered through the theoretical lens of social capital, and indicated that these taxonomies contributed to the participants’ ability to overcome challenges and advance in their careers. Five recommendations were proposed to increase the number of Hispanics in senior leader positions: (1) emphasize higher education, (2) establish mentorship programs, (3) instill the value of networking, (4) educate Hispanics about potential barriers, and (5) develop executive training programs.