Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Erich W. Baumgartner

Second Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Third Advisor

Duane Covrig


Problem. Little is known about the roles of the institutional leader’s role in the collaborative implementation of the Adventist health lifestyle programs of the Chinese Union Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Such an understanding would provide clues regarding how collaborative leadership and the implementation of Adventist lifestyle programs meet the challenge of non-communicable diseases. According to the World Health Organization report, about 36 million people died in 2008 of non-communicable diseases, and the trend continues upward. Evidence-based research, such as the China Study and the Adventist Health Studies, provides a strong support for the ability of Adventist health lifestyle programs to combat non-communicable diseases and ultimately to improve health.

Method. This qualitative case study describes the background, process, and outcomes of collaborative leadership with institutional leaders playing important roles in the implementation of Adventist health lifestyle programs. A purposive sample of 12 leaders from institutions representing union hospitals, colleges, local conferences, a publishing house, and local churches was selected. I conducted personal interviews, convened focus groups, and made observations of all the leaders as they worked. Major themes were categorized and analyzed to create a set of findings that represented the common experience and perspectives of the leaders.

Results. The research resulted in two major findings: the first pertains to the four roles of the institutional leaders—finder, supporter, builder, and owner—in the collaborative implementation of Adventist health lifestyle programs. These four leadership roles are exercised in two groups of collaborative activities. The first group is foundational for collaboration in finding resources, training health workers, and the operation of lifestyle health centers; while the second group comprises the service-based healthful lifestyle programs. The second finding is a complex integrated relationship of factors, metaphorically described as a four-strand woven cord, represented by (a) the four leadership roles, (b) the implementation of Adventist lifestyle programs, (c) the organizational structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and (d) the collaborative leadership skills of the leaders. The primary challenge for the leaders’ roles is to find ample resources for collaboration. A significant tension among the leaders in the context of the union organizational structure is the question who should initiate the common agenda for collaboration and the mechanism of the sharing of resources.

Conclusions. This case study resulted in 10 recommendations for the global Adventist church and her 120 unions. The experience of the Chinese Union Mission could be a model for collaborative leadership in the implementation of Adventist health lifestyle programs to combat non-communicable diseases in order to improve global health. The research also discovered opportunities for further research that may enhance leadership development.

Subject Area

Leadership, Health services administration.