Date of Award

Fall 12-2-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

James Therrell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sisay Teketele, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Dana Shelton, Ph.D.


This qualitative study was an exploratory, single-case study from the perspectives of Appreciative Inquiry [AI] practitioners that explored how they determined the impact of an Inquiry. Through AI worldwide, the common call to action has been for empirical, critical analysis of the theory and practices of AI (Bushe, 1998; Bushe & Marshak, 2011, 2014, 2015; Clarke, n.d.; Conklin, 2009; Grant & Humphries, 2006; Hart, Conklin, & Allen, 2008; Kessler, 2013; Tartell & Vogel, 2017; Willoughby & Tosey, 2007). Bushe and Marshak (2013) stated a lack of unifying theory of change being offered and “a rather large gulf between academics who study change from narrative and interpretive premises and Organization Development (OD) practitioners who use dialogical methods” (p. 362). In response to the call, this study focused on AI field practices for determining impact and made a critical evaluation of whether those determinants were appropriate impacts for AI and whether they had theoretical support as a means of impact. Through iterative, ad hoc coding of the interviews and focus group discussions three key themes for impact determinants emerged from this study: Cognitive Change, Paradigm Change, and Behavioral Change. Within the data convergence, the concept of a Paradigm Fulcrum emerged as the possible pivotal point where thoughts become actions. The pivotal point concept may not only help identify the how of impact determination but also lend to the discussion of why it works. Further research will be needed to confirm or expand this initial concept.