This study examines the relationships among higher education institutions and K–12 schools within three regional distance education networks in Wisconsin. It considers how well these networks serve as a means to develop and sustain collaborative initiatives that meet the purposes of both types of member organizations. In pursuing this question, it explores the extent to which these networks enable the development of a more seamless K–16 education system.
The study uses a grounded theory methodology and a theoretical framework integrating elements of the collective strategy theory of Astley and Fombrun (1983) with the processes of interorganizational relationships of Ring and Van de Ven (1994) and the sensemaking concepts of Weick (1995, 2001).
Results of the study include the finding that the networks studied provide a valuable educational service, but significant institutional and interinstitutional challenges prevent them from achieving the higher education–school collaboration which was a key part of their original vision. Limited new or unique collaborative higher education–school programming has developed within the network environments. Scheduling and calendar issues, lack of close connection to institutional priorities, and an ambiguous technology environment were significant factors in limiting collaboration. Technical colleges proved more effective collaborators than other higher education partners. Opportunities may exist to replicate those successful initiatives identified in the study, but it is more likely that environmental change involving technology will determine the future of these networks. The study concludes with a discussion of implications for distance education leadership for improvement of interorganizational collaboration, and implications for future researchers in use of the collective strategy framework in studying relationships among organizations in the nonprofit sector.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2009. Major Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Karen Rose Seashore. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 213 pages, appendices A-D.
Nordgren, Peter David.
Higher education-school relationships in regional distance education networks..
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