Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Stuart Allen

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Jennifer Williams

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Gregory McKee


Succession planning is not a common practice among nonprofit organizations, despite support for its effectiveness in supporting leadership development and providing organizational stability during a planned or unplanned transition. Nonprofits have acknowledged that their leadership ranks are thin, and a leadership transition tends to bring challenges to the organizations when vacancies need to be filled. Barriers exist that prevent nonprofits from engaging in succession planning, but little research has examined the nature of these barriers. This study focused on nonprofit organizations across four different industry sectors to determine the extent of their succession planning efforts and the barriers that exist that hinder the implementation of succession planning. I used a qualitative, multiple-case study approach and conducted 20 semistructured interviews comprised of a sample of organizational leaders with knowledge of their organizations’ succession planning activities. The study produced five themes discussing 1) the extent of succession planning activities in nonprofit organizations (NPOs); 2) succession planning in the hierarchy of organizational focus and priorities; 3) how succession planning relates to organizational survival; 4) how NPOs maintain organizational stability; and 5) if succession planning is an essential or good practice for NPOs. The implications of the study show that the practice of succession planning, while a viable option for long-term stability, does not fit all organizational models or needs and NPOs have alternative methods to meet their needs when leadership positions become vacant.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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