Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Mary Claire Morr Serewicz, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Daniel Lair

Third Advisor

Elizabeth A. Suter

Fourth Advisor

Dennis P. Wittmer


Communication, Education, Mentoring, Relational dialectics


In the past 30 years, mentoring has gained perhaps the largest recognition of any phenomenon related to career success. Much of the current research that has explored mentoring relationships has been conducted in fields other than communication studies, although better communication is often the recommended solution to improve mentoring. The majority of research has focused on the outcomes of mentoring relationships, rather than the process of mentoring relationships. Mentoring has also not been studied through a relational dialectics perspective. This study explored the communication dynamics within mentoring relationships through a relational dialectics theoretical lens. The study utilized multiple methods including prompted joint conversations as well as individual interviews. Data was analyzed using thematic analysis (Owen, 1984). Significant findings include eight dialectical tensions constituted in mentoring relationships: openness-with and closedness-with, openness-to and closedness-to, integration and separation, stability and change, equality and hierarchy, individual goals and organizational goals, personal and professional, and structure and flexibility. Five management strategies were also discovered: spiraling inversion, segmentation, reaffirmation, balance, and denial. The identification of these tensions and management strategies led to a greater understanding of mentoring relationships, built on existing research to highlight the complexity in mentoring relationships, as well as supported the conceptualization of relational dialectics theory.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Paul J. Kosempel


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

162 p.



Included in

Communication Commons