Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Jane McEldowney Jensen, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Neal H. Hutchens, Ph.D.


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 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.

This companion dissertation consists of three manuscripts. Chapter 2, a technical report, contains the 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 researcher presents the key findings of the individual case study that looks at the success of an ad hoc committee formed to guide their institution through the accreditation process. The findings of this study emphasize the important role that leadership plays in the team’s success.

In Chapter 4, the researcher shares lessons learned throughout the research process and by walking through her leadership journey from reluctant to authentic leader.