Posted by: Dorianne Cotter-Lockard | 22 September 2009

Springboard to Act II

I completed my portfolio review via a phone conference discussion with Dr. Valerie Bentz and Dr. Keith Melville on September 2.

This brief summary outlines the key points of my Portfolio Review discussion:

Keith commented that I present a self-confident voice in my writing and that my work is clear and coherent. Valerie highlighted the depth of my work and my ability to reach out and connect with outside scholarly communities.  However, I need to develop my ability to critique scholarly research and theory.  Keith suggested I revisit the DOCS (Doctoral Competencies) modules pertaining to those topics to develop a lens through which I can identify what’s missing or ambiguous in a piece of research.  These skills are critical to a successful dissertation literature review.

Keith posed a question to me that I need to answer as I develop my scholarship: what is my home discipline?  What are the main questions that I’m curious about?  What puzzles me?  In other words, I need to become clear about my curiosities and key questions.  I spent time thinking about and articulating these questions two years ago when I first entered into the program.  Now it’s time to revisit them so that I find a home in a scholarly community (or two).

Valerie suggested that I narrow down my interests as I enter into my final KA’s.  My interests have intentionally been broad and varied during the first part of my studies.  I agree that it is time to reduce scope and define a focus for the remainder of my studies.

Another suggestion from Valerie, which she had mentioned to me in the past as my mentor, is to explore sociological theories in order to ground and inform my future research.  This is a gap in my foundation as a scholar.  I will include readings on symbolic interaction theory, structural-functional theory and critical theory in one of my elective KA’s.

Valerie pointed out that my career in business has focused on the Fortune 100, working with very wealthy and privileged individuals.  Do I want to continue to work with this elite group, or do I want to extend my work to other groups?  Of course I want to work with other groups and am already doing so (Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute is one example).  However, I believe that a significant tipping point exists within the corporate world.  A leadership team from a Fortune 100 company affects the lives of 50,000 – 100,000 employees, which in turn affects the lives of the employees’ families and communities.  A company’s products, services and practices also affect the lives of potentially millions of consumers, investors and thousands of business partners.  If we don’t work to help shift the consciousness of the leadership teams of these corporations so they operate within a framework of sustainability, what hope do we have of finding the tipping point to effect world-wide systemic change?  That’s why I’m interested in the inner lives of leaders of large organizations.

At the end of the call, we talked about the Fielding journey in three “acts.”  Act I concludes with the portfolio review.  Act II concludes after I have finished most, but not all of the electives, completed the comprehensive exams and have an approved concept paper.  I’m already part of the way through Act II.  I look forward to the remaining journey with enthusiasm and appreciation toward all of the faculty members who have nurtured my growth during the past two years.  I am especially grateful to Valerie for providing guidance, support and opportunities to participate in the scholarly conversation.



  1. Your mentor is very perceptive about your need to fine tune your skills as a scholarly critic. However, there seems to be a contradiction in her urging you to look at a larger sample of populations. Your corporate inside knowledge should function as a plus in your choice of thesis.

  2. I liked the questions posed as a method of collecting your thoughts more effectively:

    —-what is my home discipline? What are the main questions that I’m curious about? What puzzles me?—–

    Good technique for developing all sorts of ideas and projects.
    Congratulations on another milestone!

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