Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Kim VanDerLinden

Second Supervisor

Andrew Turner


Students seek higher education to obtain better employment. While employers value soft skills at least as much as academic knowledge, the soft skills literature is without consensus as to which of the many soft skills or employability skills employers value most, making it challenging for colleges to provide effective soft skills education. To organize employers’ many different soft skill preferences, this study explores organizational culture as a conceptual framework. Specifically, the case study explores values and characteristics common to one organization’s culture, to the soft skills that its executives and managers prefer their employees to possess, to employee beliefs regarding which soft skills are necessary for successful employment, and to the soft skills that the employees demonstrate. The study examines data from interviews, observations, assessments, documents, and artifacts, through the lens of the competing values framework and theoretical material by Schein. Analysis reveals that the organization’s soft skill preferences, demonstrated soft skills, and organizational cultures hold values and characteristics in common, suggesting that organizational culture is a potentially useful conceptual framework for organizing the plethora of soft skill preferences demonstrated by various studies. The study concludes with a review of its limitations and a discussion of the implications for soft skills literature, postsecondary education, and business. The study suggests further research steps and the creation of a soft skills taxonomy based in thematic connections between soft skill sets and sets of organizational culture characteristics.

Included in

Education Commons