Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education


accountability, California, case study, educational governance, Florida, higher education, Leadership studies, participatory decision-making, state community college systems


Inherent to college governance in many community colleges throughout the nation is the expectation that a collegial or participatory model of decision-making is the appropriate mode of governance. This type of model structures an organization to allow the opportunity for all constituencies to participate in decision-making. Some states, such as California, have mandated a participatory decision-making process, commonly referred to as “shared governance” (AB1725) while others operate in a similar manner but not by legislative mandate. Regardless of the model of decision-making used to govern community colleges, most states are being asked to address educational accountability with regard to student performance outcomes. States, such as Florida, have reorganized their entire educational governance structure (SB1162) in an attempt to increase student success. This case study provides an in-depth look at how internal structures of participatory decision-making respond to external requirements for accountability. The underlying premise for this study is that the decision-making process employed by a community college system at the state and local level significantly impacts any attempt to achieve accountability. The study examined two community college systems at the system (state) and college (local) level: California and Florida. Four research questions guided data collection with an additional sub-research question regarding how perceptions differed at the system and college level. A total of 29 respondents, at both the system and college levels, participated revealing meaningful insights about shared decision-making, accountability, student performance outcomes, performance-based funding and leadership. The findings of this study revealed that 1) whether mandated or not, participatory decision making results in a higher degree of commitment by all constituencies, 2) commitment while not guaranteeing success increases the likelihood of an initiative such as performance based funding improving student performance, 3) an emphasis on accountability shifts the focus to student success and removes barriers to completion, 4) community colleges continue to be under-funded while expected to provide services to meet growth and diversity demands and, 5) leadership is key to the success of any participatory decision-making initiative. This study suggests that additional research is needed to investigate implications of leadership and external influences.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access