Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Morphew, Christopher C

First Committee Member

Portman, Tarrell Awe Agahe

Second Committee Member

Liddell, Debora

Third Committee Member

Grady, David

Fourth Committee Member

Brown, Kenneth


Sabbaticals have long been linked to higher education institutions and their employees. Sabbaticals have been granted for the development and respite of employees teaching classes and conducting research. However, sabbaticals are not just limited to faculty at colleges or just linked to education. A number of businesses have also turned to sabbaticals to help recruit, retain, and develop employees and administrators. This study examines the practice of administrative sabbaticals to provide empirical research regarding sabbatical policies and benefits for administrative staff (professional, exempt staff). This study provides empirical research to understand how sabbaticals benefit institutions and their employees and how sabbatical policies are structured, conceptualized, and communicated.

Content analysis and qualitative inquiry were used to examine sabbatical granting institutions and the individuals who use sabbaticals. This multi-institutional case study sampled a variety of institutional types in the United States. Data were obtained from 20 sabbatical policies (representing a total of 166 institutional locations) and nine semi-structured case study interviews with both the sabbicants and the administrators of the programs. The data for this study were analyzed through Amabile's organizational creativity theoretical framework. An extensive literature review on sabbaticals both inside and outside of academia provided the foundation for the study. Furthermore, document analysis of sabbatical proposals and final reports provided important background information. This study answered the following questions: How are staff sabbaticals structured and used at colleges and universities? How do administrators and sabbaticants in colleges and universities conceptualize and communicate individual and organizational benefits of staff sabbaticals? How do these individual and organizational benefits compare to the sabbatical policy?


higher education administrator, leave, policy, professional development, sabbatical, staff


xiv, 305 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 287-305).


Copyright 2012 Katherine L. Wildman