Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Neal H. Hutchens

Second Advisor

Dr. Jane McEldowney Jensen

Abstract

In this companion dissertation findings are reported of applied case study research on four community college organizational units that consistently meet or exceed standard performance measures. Ample prior evidence confirmed that performance extended significantly beyond what might be explained by available tangible resources alone. The case study contexts are common in higher education in general: a) an external partnership, (b) an ad hoc team, (c) a traditional, cross-divisional service unit, and (d) a grant-funded student service unit.

Emerging positive organizational theory and research shows promise for revealing performance-influencing phenomena and behaviors that are not adequately represented in standard measures. Therefore, this collaborative case study research was designed to explore positive influences on the success of the four community college units.

The companion dissertation consists of three manuscripts. Chapter 2, a technical report, is a collaboratively-written synthesis of findings from the four individual case studies. Key findings across the units suggest the influence on performance of: (a) a people-first culture, (b) authentic, trusting, inclusive leadership, and (c) resource richness beyond constrained tangible resources.

In Chapter 3, the author presents in journal article format one of the case studies that contributed to the findings reported in Chapter 2. The academic library chosen for this research serves an urban community college campus near the geographic center of its city. The research asks how the library consistently performs well despite severe budget and staffing constraints and a series of disruptive events.

Key findings in Chapter 3 include the following influences on performance: (a) valuing people and building relationships; (b) a culture of service that shares duties, resources, and expertise; and (c) leadership that effectively translates formal goals into an enabling matrix of behaviors and phenomena.

In Chapter 4, a scholarly narrative, the author reflects on transformative aspects of the doctoral experience on learning and life.

Practical recommendations are offered. Additional research is needed to explore causal relationships, how to influence greater resource amplification, and how to increase awareness of positive organizational dynamics.