Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Johanna S. Hunsaker, PhD; Mary Woods Scherr, PhD; Herman Gadon, PhD; Natasha Josefowitz, PhD


case study, collaboration, Leadership studies, San Diego Children’s Initiative (San Diego, CA), shared vision, stakeholder concerns, theories-in-use


While there are many collaborative efforts throughout the country, few have the breadth or the scope of the San Diego Children's Initiative. The general purpose of this research study was to analyze and develop an interpretive case study describing the initial collaborative process of the Strategic Action Committee of the San Diego Children's Initiative. The study focused on the initial phase of the collaboration which took place from November of 1993 through April of 1995. This study sought to determine some factors that may influence the potential success of a large-scale, multi-sector, private-public collaborative effort. The research analyzed the success of the initial phase of the collaboration through investigating three related organizational dynamics: shared vision, stakeholder issues, and theories-of-action. The study evaluated the degree to which the perception of various gains and losses by participants influenced their commitment to the shared vision, whether the theories espoused by participants were consistent with their theories-in-use, and whether the variety of stakeholder issues facilitated the collaborative effort. The data was collected through ten interviews, archival documents, and observational notes. The analysis of the data found that the participants both enrolled in the vision and perceived greater gains than losses for themselves personally and their organizations, and that a strong relationship existed between the shared vision, stakeholder concerns, and the theories-in-use. These relationships and their implications for the collaborative effort are explored at length. The data further revealed specific inferences about the large scale-collaborative process including unintended consequences, initial actions of collaboration and systemic change efforts. The conclusion of the study includes a presentation of the Children's Initiative after five years and compares its current vision and structure to the strategic plan created by the initial phase of the Children's Initiative in April of 1995. This descriptive case study offered the opportunity to work with individuals who are among the most influential people in the county of San Diego. Because the Strategic Action Committee represented such a high level of local leadership, the opportunity to study the phenomenon of their collaboration was unique and fortuitous. It was hoped that the unique perceptions and experiences of the participants would be of great benefit to other collaboratives that work with the same kind of executive and high profile community leaders. This research demonstrated that the Children's Initiative created a strong, effective and enduring community collaborative.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access