Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Joel Iverson

Commitee Members

Greg Larson, Stacey Keogh


church leadership, concertive control, identification, identity, membership negotiation, non-profit organizations, organizational identification, structuration theory


University of Montana


Churches provide a structured medium for human spiritual experiences (Ammerman, 2005) and as such are structured around a set of organizationally unique purposes and beliefs. This research project focuses on the leadership teams of a start-up church organization founded in Denver, CO. Guided by Structuration Theory (Giddens, 1984), Communicative Constitution of Organization through the Four Flows (McPhee & Zaug, 2000), and Organizational Identification (Scott, Corman, & Cheney, 1998), the bi-directional relationship between leaders and the organization was qualitatively examined and analyzed. Specifically, membership negotiation is seen through the constructs of formal structure and identity. The negotiation process was evident in the team through the process of communicating and enacting a DNA metaphor. Membership negotiation is found to encompass the negotiation of individual and organizational identity, as well as organizational identification. The church leadership team, as it currently functions, demonstrates the complexity of identity construction and maintenance within a highly participative and belief driven organization. Through this research there are implications for concertive control and organizational identification negating some of the role tensions for organizational leaders. Overall, structure and agency within the Pearl Church organization is the result of communicative negotiation of importance, belonging, and purpose.



© Copyright 2013 Megan E. Gesler