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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Norena Badway

First Committee Member

Delores McNair

Second Committee Member

Lynn Beck

Third Committee Member

Lynn Miller


The purpose of this study was to analyze the leadership decision making process associated with pursuing innovative educational programs. The study investigated the experiences of leaders involved in pursuing Tech Prep Demonstration Project grants at two early-innovator California community colleges. A qualitative investigation was conducted utilizing descriptive case study methodologies. The researcher conducted focused interviews with individuals in leadership positions at the time the decision to pursue a Tech Prep Demonstration Project grant was made at these two community colleges. The study was guided by a data-analysis spiral. The data analysis spiral enabled the researcher to organize and examine large amounts of data in a systematic fashion. The study found that the decision-making process was facilitated by eight factors: (a) Environmental scanning by a designated person or by middle management; (b) preexisting intersegmental long term relationships with key individuals outside their institution; (c) prior knowledge of a related innovation; (d) personal and professional experience and frustration with a lack of educational options for K-12 students; (e) educational values that aligned with the innovation being pursued; (f) preexisting structures that allowed leaders to expand existing programming rather than to initiate new programming; (g) early reservations and challenges; and (h) post decision-making issues. These factors each played a large part in defining whether an environment in which innovations are considered exists in certain community colleges, as well as in K-12 schools. The community college leaders who took part in this decision making process had a great deal of professional experience to build upon. They used that experience to form relationships with K-12 leaders, who became their partners in educational reform. These partnerships were made possible because the colleges possessed sufficient organizational slack, and utilized that slack to pursue innovative programming. An earlier federal policy, the Tech Prep component of the 1990 Carl Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, may have had limited success in meeting its own goals, but produced the strong intersegmental relationships that the TPDP was built upon. In addition, the study confirmed the decision-making stages described by Rogers (2003) and defined a sixth stage, the "resolution stage," in which decision makers step back and take time to reflect on the innovation itself and the process used to make the decision to implement or not implement the innovation, as well as correcting early assumptions that proved to be false. The resolution stage provided leaders with time to step back and reflect on their original goals and on the progress of the innovation in order to make course corrections as necessary.





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