Working together for student success: cross-functional collaboration at community colleges Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/7s75df727

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  • The purpose of this study was to identify and describe the underlying mechanisms within community colleges that influence cross-functional collaboration. The study also explored the role of community college leadership in fostering internal collaboration. The following questions guided the research: (1) What does cross-functional collaboration look like at a community college known for strong collaborative work? (2) What organizational factors influence cross-functional collaboration in the community college? (3) How does college leadership facilitate cross-functional collaboration in the community college? Critical realism provided the philosophical perspective for this post-positivist study, and the research method utilized was a multiple, instrumental case study that was replicated at three community colleges. The data collected and analyzed included interviews with 31 participants and relevant written and electronic documents. The findings of a cross-case analysis revealed five general themes that described the context of cross-functional collaboration in the community college. In the colleges included within this study, cross-functional collaboration: (a) arose from necessity, (b) was primed by upper management, (c) was kept on track by accountability, (d) was guided by a team leader, and (e) was supported by committed team participants. Six organizational factors were identified as having an impact on cross-functional collaboration in community colleges. The common organizational factors found to influence cross-functional collaboration included: (a) an environment of support, (b) common vision, (c) processes, (d) resources, (e) accountability, and (f) recognition. The college president and other top-level administrators were found to play a significant role in facilitating cross-functional collaboration at their institutions. The themes that emerged across all three cases showed that college leaders influenced collaboration by: (a) contributing to an environment of support, (b) establishing the project as a college priority, (c) implementing processes that facilitated collaboration, (d) involving the right people, (e) providing clear direction and goals, and (f) owning responsibility for effective functioning. Subthemes and examples related to each of these findings provide insight regarding effective cross-functional collaboration in community colleges.
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