Martin, Dorian Noel (2015-03). Complex School-University Partnerships: University and University-System Leaders' Experiences. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of university and university-system mid-level leaders' experiences in complex partnerships in which they have been involved. A complex partnership was defined as a codified ongoing collaborative effort that involves at least three different organizational entities. These complex partnerships are designed to leverage resources and personnel through developing shared capacity to fulfill a specific agreed-upon educational mandate. Two major areas comprise the focus of this inquiry: (a) the leaders' description about their practice in facilitating complex partnerships, and (b) factors that shaped the leaders' practices in relation to these partnerships. The leaders in this study were mid-level university-system or university managers who were involved in or had recent experience in facilitating complex partnerships. The study participants' experiences in complex partnerships were experienced from a qualitative perspective and through extensive open-ended individual interviews and document review. Ten mid-level leaders from university systems and universities in the United States were purposefully selected. The constant comparative analysis method was employed for data analysis and result interpretations. Five themes and three subthemes directly related to these leaders' participation in complex partnerships emerged from the data. The five themes were: (a) emerging needs; (b) relationships; (c) leadership; (d) accountability; and (e) staffing and infrastructure. The three subthemes were: (a) communication; (b) collaboration; and (c) driving force leadership. A model for organization development in a complex partnership was proposed to understand how these multi-organization partnerships function. Implications for HRD theory and practice were drawn and specific future research directions were discussed. This study provides insight that may inform HRD professionals when designing organization development interventions in a complex partnership.

publication date

  • May 2015