Moving from good to great: how one community college made the transition Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/pk02cf673

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  • The purpose of this study is to explore the applicability of Collins’ (2001) Good-to-Great theory, as originally introduced for the business sector and as adapted for the social sector, to the ways a community college moved from being “good” to being “great.” The following questions guided the research: (1) Which of Collins’ themes, if any, were present for a community college that has transitioned from good to great in terms of organizational effectiveness? (2) What other themes, if any, were important for a community college moving from good to great? (3) What was the relative importance of Collins’ themes, among themselves and in relation to other important themes, for a community college moving from good to great? (4) How should Collins’ themes be altered to better describe their relevance in a community college moving from good to great? The research design included an interpretive social science methodology and instrumental case study method at one college identified as having made the transition from good to great. The findings demonstrated that elements from all seven of the Good-to-Great themes posited by Collins were present at the good-to-great community college, yet there were some features of the themes that were not present. A continuum of applicability for Collins’ themes was presented with the Flywheel and Doom Loop theme having the greatest and the Hedgehog Concept having the least applicability to the community college context. Beyond the themes presented in Collins’ theory, three additional emergent themes contributed to the community college’s transition from good to great, specifically: (a) Context Matters, (b) Enduring Leadership, and (c) Creating the Reality We Need. Ascertaining the importance of Collins’ themes and the emergent themes in relation to each other was found to be challenging and problematic as the interaction among all of the themes was seen as important. Alterations of all seven of Collins’ themes were proposed including: (a) Level 5 Leadership, (b) Both Who…And What, (c)Address the Uncomfortable Facts – And Never Lose Faith, (d) The Hedgehog Concept – Simplicity within the Three Circles, (e) A Culture of Disciplined Experimentation, (f) Technology Accelerators, and (g) The Flywheel and the Doom Loop. The study concludes that, with increasing demand and accountability confronting community colleges in the face of reducing resources, the insights gained through the findings of a good-to-great college may provide helpful lessons for other community college leaders to consider when developing their own strategies for improving organizational effectiveness.
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