Community stakeholder influence in community college decision-making
AuthorFairchilds, Angela R.
KeywordsEducation, Community College.
AdvisorLevin, John S.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis is a qualitative study of three urban community colleges and their respective communities which examines how local stakeholders influence strategic decisions made by college leaders. The subject colleges are located in the same governing district and thus have commonalities in mission as well as bureaucratic procedures that provide a normative structure. Beyond this shared legal and bureaucratic framework, the colleges operate with a high degree of autonomy. It is this operational freedom coupled with community dissimilarities that are analyzed in this investigation, through answering the following questions: In what ways do community stakeholders influence strategic decisions at their local community college? How do college leaders define their respective service communities? Which community stakeholder groups are identified as influential and how are these influences defined? What boundary-spanning relationships exist as avenues for community influence? How is community input/feedback utilized? A common assumption in the literature about community colleges is that these institutions operationalize a comprehensive mission within the context of their local constituencies. The implication is that colleges are connected to their service communities and thus are subject to community influences. However, it is not clear in what ways these connections and local influences are manifested in college behavior; how do we know that such connections exist? if they do exist, what kind of connections are they? and in what ways do they influence college operations? Most of the literature on community colleges describes or explains the institutional role in a wide context or in generalities. While these perspectives provide valuable insight into community colleges on a broad level, there is much to be learned from examining the community college in a local context. This research fills a void in the literature about community colleges by focusing on local influences and presents a clearer understanding of the dynamic between a community college and its service community. The research centers around a conception of a community college as an open system, interdependently related to its external environment. It draws from key works by authors who propound views that organizational behaviors are controlled, constrained, or otherwise shaped by external influences. Findings are interpreted using the theoretical lenses of resource dependency, power and power-dependence relationships, and the concept of stakeholder influence in strategic management. The analysis provides a descriptive explanation and conception of the relationships between the subject community colleges and their respective communities, as well as comparing findings with the commonly held assumption that programming and services are driven by community needs.
Degree ProgramGraduate College