Exploring Barriers Kenyan Immigrants Face in Attaining Leadership Positions in Northern California: A Phenomenological Study

Exploring Barriers Kenyan Immigrants Face in Attaining Leadership Positions in Northern California: A Phenomenological Study

Author: 
John Onuko Mobegi
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
The United States of America was founded by immigrants who came in search of opportunities and religious freedom. The Kenyan immigrants migrated to the United States to seek for education and employment opportunities. As immigrants arrive in the United States, they are faced with complex challenges that include cultural, social, political, and economical barriers. The goal of this qualitative and phenomenological research study was to explore the problem of barriers immigrants’ face in attaining leadership positions in private and public organizations in the United States. This study was guided by one research question: How do Kenyan immigrants in mid to senior management positions perceive and describe their experiences on barriers in attaining leadership positions? The study participants were 20 Kenyan immigrants who were holding mid to senior management positions in their respective organizations in Northern California. The data for this study was subjected to an analysis using the seven steps of Van Kaam’s method, developed by Hursell and modified by Moustakas, and NVivo 11 computer software to identify themes through data coding and distillation. The themes that emerged were: (a) networking, (b) social environment, (c) leadership process, (d) culture, (e), economic environment, (f) organization politics, and (g) discrimination. The study results might provide the Kenyan immigrants with important information to better understand the steps to take and the pitfalls to avoid in attaining leadership positions. Organizations and policy makers may use the findings as a tool to identify the barriers working against immigrants’ career advancement and direct corrective measures to relevant areas.
Dedication: 
I would like to dedicate the dissertation to my late grandfather Patroba Onuko and my late grandmother Priscilla Nyantune. Thank you for blessing me with the courage, the wisdom, and the determination to do anything in life. Thank you for listening and offering kind words of encouragement. Your words of wisdom and compassion kept me grounded. You are the wings beneath my wings. The personal sacrifices made during your lifetime are greatly appreciated, and I know you are proud and smiling down on me each day. Thank you. Special dedication goes to my uncle Sospeter Mageto and Aunt Eleanor Moraa. Thank you for the support, love, guidance, words of encouragement and the opportunity to move forward in life. Your belief in me gave me wings to fly. I also dedicate the dissertation to all of my family members and those who helped and supported my academic endeavors over the years.
Acknowledgements: 
I want to acknowledge, give praise and glory to God for with Him all things are possible in life. I want to thank my Mum, my wife Angela and our children – Elijah, Shem, Zaidi and Taji. Thank you for the sacrifices you made and allowed me the time to study and complete my educational goal. Thank you all for the love, support, and understanding during my doctoral journey. You made it easier for me to pursue my dream and for that I am grateful. I would like to thank Dorothy and Michael Thornton for letting me stay at their house while attending residence in Phoenix. Thank you to all of the helpful individuals who participated in this dissertation. I appreciate your time devoted to helping me along my doctoral journey. I am forever grateful for your assistance. Lastly, I was privileged and grateful to have Dr. Ogwo Umeh as my mentor and committee chair. Dr. Umeh, thank you for the conversations, feedbacks, your dedication, professional guidance, support and encouragement that provided the motivation I needed to remain focused on completing my doctoral journey. To my committee team members, Dr. Bethany Mickahail, and Dr. Gholam Ali Shaykhian, thank you for the valuable feedbacks and support during my doctoral dissertation journey. There were many challenges, but you helped me through them. Thank You.