Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Robin Cooper

Second Advisor

Urszula Strawinska-Zanko

Third Advisor

Angela Dash


alternative dispute resolution, competencies, competency model, conflict resolution, equity, ombuds


This study aimed to deepen the understanding of ombuds (i.e., ombudsman, ombudsperson) who practice in higher education settings by exploring what ombuds consider the critical competencies to fulfill a variety of professional functions, how ombuds acquired those competencies, and how ombuds are assessed and self-assess. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to make an empirically researched recommendation for an ombuds in higher education competency model. The researcher gathered data from 23 ombuds in the United States working in institutions of higher education. The researcher analyzed the data gathered from semi-structured interviews using descriptive coding in the first coding cycle and pattern coding in the second coding cycle. The three major themes developed through data analysis were: (a) ombuds place the most value on behavioral competencies, (b) ombuds value knowledge of ADR intervention methods, and (c) ombuds rely on feedback to assess their competencies. The study expanded previous research findings about the characteristics, competencies, functions, and effectiveness of the ombuds position. The study findings will support the ombuds profession by identifying and confirming key competencies and how they are assessed. The recommendations will be shared with the International Ombuds Association (IOA).