Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. Wolfgang Althof


Farnsworth, Kent


Althof, Wolfgang

Farnsworth, Kent

Haywood, Kathleen

Kohn, Dixie


Why are some community colleges, regardless of location or size, able to successfully engage their communities (both internal and external) to create highly functional strategic plans that guide their institutions to a shared vision and transformational change? This research sought to identify the positive qualitative elements exercised during the strategic planning process. Contextual elements, such as how leaders craft the strategic planning process, how and to what degree they seek feedback from the college’s stakeholders, as well as the social and psychological processes and talents of the people involved in the planning have not been examined in depth in the literature. By examining these aspects, the researcher hopes to create a list of best practices that colleges can implement to enhance their internal processes. The researcher used qualitative methods via focus group interviews and using Grounded Theory analysis. She visited three community colleges recommended as having exemplary planning processes that resulted in a shared vision. The colleges were geographically and demographically diverse to document commonalities of different types of community colleges. The researcher conducted four homogeneous focus groups at each college (leadership, students, faculty, and staff). The query related to the strategic planning process that welcomed true stakeholder input and sought transformational change that would create shared vision. The focus of the questions centered on the role leadership had in the process, cultural characteristics of the college that influenced the planning processes, and finally, the role that each individual played in the process. At the conclusion of the study, the researcher found that a combination of factors work in concert to enable the community colleges in the study to foster a shared vision. Attributes such as loyalty, servant leadership, communication, trust and accountability are but a few of the necessary attributes found among the colleges in the research.

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