Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education


British Columbia (Canada), colleges, decision-making, governing board, higher education, Leadership studies, post-secondary education system, quantitative, shared governance


In 1995, the membership of governing boards in colleges in British Columbia changed from lay persons appointed by the provincial government. The new boards consisted of fewer lay appointees with the addition of elected faculty, staff, and students, together with the college presidents and education council chairs as non-voting members. The presence of employees and students on boards was viewed by most observers as likely to enhance the quality of decision-making in general. However, that same presence could introduce an element of real or potential conflict of interest (Flanigan, 1994). The broadening of input and decision-making brought about in the shared governance model, assuming the constituents could effectively manage the actual sharing of power, was expected to lead to improved quality of decisions and also to greater acceptance by stakeholders (Draper and Van Groningen, 1990). Moreover, boards were also the final authority for setting institutional budgets and were the legislated employers. The established culture of boards had changed and had affected the boards' role in general matters through the sheer presence of different constituents. In matters of finance and labour relations, boards had to find ways to fulfill their obligations while maintaining their integrity and credibility. This quantitative study reported the views and experiences of board members concerning three aspects of leadership through shared governance in three decision-making contexts. The study explored the different views and experiences among seventeen colleges and between the six constituent groups of board members, and also identified differences which had emerged since a similar study conducted by the researcher in 1995/96. Colleges were found to differ significantly in philosophies and practices toward shared governance, particularly in relation to conflict of interest and the existence of clear policies and procedures. Presidents were found to be troubled by internal members' lack of independence from their constituencies. The generally negative views overall of shared governance by presidents, although cited as common by Baliles (1996), were in marked contrast to the earlier study. In contrast, internal members had generally reported more positive opinions with the passage of time, while external members had remained consistently positive toward shared governance.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access