Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Beth Rous


The study purpose is to advance implementation of sustainable development at colleges, and to contribute to organizational change research using social network analysis. The researcher conducted document analysis using 2012-2016 sustainability reports of 16 purposefully selected two-year colleges under a common framework. Interpreting and coding resulted in ranking sustainable development activities as well as grouping colleges using cluster analysis. A survey and interviews were employed by the researcher to determine major themes as challenges to sustainability implementation, and personal network themes using social network analysis measures and sociograms. Challenges to sustainability implementation identified as study themes were: (1) college leadership transition; (2) communication networks; and (3) sustainability funding and resources. Personal network themes based on network analysis were: (1) sustainability leadership typologies; (2) network communication bridges and cliques; and (3) social capital for sustainability funding and resources.

The research found personal egocentric network techniques an effective methodology in identifying attributes of communication links to inform transformational leaders implementing innovation. Study implications are that sustainability leaders within informal networks of staff, administrators, and faculty influence and actively participate in innovation diffusion. Faculty and staff work on specific projects and activities advancing sustainability such as community gardens or working with environmental groups, and administrator support provides social capital in terms of funding and resources. Striking the right balance among types and communication ties is a challenge for transformational leaders. Personal network techniques help leaders recognize organic network cliques and bridges during implementation stages, allowing for informed support and advancement of college sustainability. From this study, sustainability practitioners may be interested in using sustainability activity frequencies for planning and sharing with other colleges, as well as using personal network techniques to develop sociograms identifying important network positions, cliques, and bridges for sustainability implementation.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)