Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business

First Advisor

Dr. Justine Haigh, PhD

Second Advisor

Dr Craig Johnson, PhD

Third Advisor

Dr. Kurt Morgan, DMin


This study explores pastors’ interactions in a rural regional network through Network and Social Exchange Theories. With the increasing need to understand the life experiences of network actors, a qualitative based approach is utilized. The results provide in-depth and contextually sensitive results that traditional quantitative-based techniques cannot. Open-ended interviewing allowed the participants to share their lived experiences, identifying the rhythms of boundary spanning behaviors. This offers hope for those seeking to understand the intricacies that orchestrate groups of people coming together in synergistic relationships. From a biblical understanding, a Cord of Three is not easily broken, and this study reveals multifarious threads (or themes) and the conditions in which these threads readily entwine. As knots can be studied to understand their composition, so can these ties and intersections.

The overarching theory for this study is Network Theory, with Social Exchange Theory providing insight into the personal linkages. These two key typologies are used for data interpretation; Eisenberg (2006) helps us understand the Institutional and Representative linkages through a network theory perspective. The institutional level themes centered around syncretism factors and how ecumenical or unity minded the organizations found themselves. At a representative level, resource poverty theory presented findings that showed interactions centering on time efficiencies, human capital needs, and the impact of space scarcity. Salzer’s (1998) typology helps delve into Social Exchange elements and the more personal, intimate factors involving an individual’s discrete setting, organizational and ideological ties, the dynamic of trust, and how common threat acts as a unifier. Patterns and rhythms emerged from the participants' lived stories regarding their respective churches and interdenominational relationships. Interestingly, once certain thresholds are met (such as time demands, theological beliefs, and trust is developed) people are readily willing to cross traditional boundaries and join forces.

Individuals can use time, purpose, and trust-building to create powerful personal relationships. Busy schedules and responsibilities hinder many relationships from developing into a healthy regional network, but careful and deliberate attempts to work around these boundaries can bring results. The pastors in this study exhibit that a healthy network can exist in a region, but relationships require effort to maintain and grow. The lived experiences of these pastors show that they are engaging in risky social behavior by trusting their peers in these relationships, but the narratives repeatedly show that the risk is worth the gain. The perspective and social currency gained from these interactions act as a life-giving source when done without ulterior motives. Looking for commonalities and following the rhythms produces opportunities for authentic relationships interactions.