Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics Theses

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Submitted to the Program of Organizational Dynamics, College of Liberal and Professional Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania

Advisor: Dana Kaminstein, Ph.D.


There is limited empirical research on how Asian American women interpret situations with workplace authority and how those conceptualizations of authority came to be. This qualitative study examines how Asian American women experience authority in the workplace. I draw from 15 semi-structured interviews with Asian American women to identify the cultural underpinnings that show how this group experiences authority in the workplace. The themes suggest that early experiences of authority affect how Asian American women respond to authority in the workplace. The results show how Asian American women in the study were influenced by parents, respected authority, and experienced conflict with authority figures. Moreover, the interviews show that understandings of authority influence how participants in the study interacted with authority in the workplace. By investigating negative and positive experiences with authority in the workplace, I draw themes on how Asian American women in this study interpret the actions of authority figures. Lastly, I identify how this group makes meaning of their own authority in the workplace to reveal findings about their confidence and decision-making process. This study highlights the lived experiences of Asian American women in the workplace. Overall, the findings offer another perspective of authority in the workplace from the vantage points of Asian American women. Acknowledging cultural differences will contribute to the development of a more diverse and inclusive workforce.


Asian American, women, authority, confidence, decision-making, mentorship



Date Posted: 21 January 2022