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Entrepreneurial decision making in community colleges: The nexus among external market forces, resource dependency and expanding missions

Donna M Wilson, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The dissertation research focused on how executive level administrators perceive external forces, environmental conditions and resource dependency as components in a new economy that shape entrepreneurial decision making in their community colleges. The objectives of the research examined an expansion from public-supported resource allocations, formulas and funding, tied to specific parts of a community college's mission, i.e., open access, to a decision-making model where the attainment other identified external resources may have become more competitive to fund less clear aspects of an institution's mission. The case studies reviewed reduction or elimination of past revenue streams that may have positioned executive level administrators into a decision-making posture where they reallocated institutional resources to areas of increased demand. Additionally, interviews, research documents and other materials also identified external environmental conditions and resource dependency as some of the forces that community college executive level administrators reported to have influenced their decision-making processes regarding institutional policy, strategies, identifying new revenue streams, and program initiatives in a new economy. To what extent have executive level administrators potentially shaped or reshaped institutional identification by focusing upon externally driven resources as funding opportunities through active pursuit of workforce development grants, partnerships, contracts or other revenue streams? In addition, the research also addressed the thinking, perspectives and "mind maps" of executive level administrators who make decisions about potential entrepreneurial opportunities for their community colleges. For community college administrators and other institutional stakeholders contemplating expanding the college's mission, this study provides foundational theory, options, concerns, implications and recommendations that should be carefully considered. Additionally, my goal was to shed light on two distinctly different community colleges where environmental forces and decision-making strategies can inform future practice at other community colleges across the nation. I hope that this research study will assist all internal and external constituents to understand the founding values of community colleges, their evolution, tradition, values and future roles in American higher education.

Subject Area

Community college education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Wilson, Donna M, "Entrepreneurial decision making in community colleges: The nexus among external market forces, resource dependency and expanding missions" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3336969.