Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Neal H. Hutchens

Second Advisor

Dr. Jane McEldowney Jensen


This companion dissertation reports the findings of applied case study research on four community college organizational units that consistently meet or exceed standard performance measures. In addition, prior ample evidence confirms 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 show 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.

This companion dissertation contains four manuscripts. Chapter 1 presents an introduction to the study. Chapter 2 contains a collectively written synthesis of the findings from the four individual case studies. Chapter 3 reflects individual research on a partnership that serves as a national model for adult education. Chapter four offers an alternative perspective to developing authentic leaders in community colleges. 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. Practical recommendations for scholars and practitioners are offered.