This study uses mixed methods research to explore the phenomenon of partnerships between higher education institutions (HEIs) and nonprofit organizations (NPOs) focused on improving college access for diverse populations. Using available quantitative data, interviews and documentary evidence collected from nonprofit, four-year, private and public HEIs in Pennsylvania, this research seeks to understand whether relationships between HEIs and NPOs are a common feature of the college access landscape; how institutions understand relationships with college access nonprofits; how they use relationships to achieve particular goals including and in addition to improving college access for diverse populations; and what motivates institutions to engage in and sustain relationships. This research also considers whether there are relationships between institutional characteristics and undergraduate student diversity. Drawing from theoretical literature on the antecedents to partnership formation developed within the field of business and from organizational learning theory, this study finds that there is little agreement on what constitutes a relationship between HEIs and NPOs and a “college access nonprofit”; that HEIs rarely articulate specific, measurable goals for the enrollment of diverse populations; that relationships are used to improve direct and indirect access to students, to build trust in HEIs, to fill perceived deficits for students and families, and to address demographic pressures. Furthermore, the study finds that relationships’ effectiveness is rarely measured and that ties between entities are rarely severed, except in the case of extreme failure to meet expectations. The findings of this study suggest that what HEIs refer to relationships are instead “less formal dyadic linkages.” HEIs forms ties to NPOs primarily in the pursuit of enhanced institutional legitimacy with respect to the recruitment of diverse students, which is perceived to enhance institutions’ ability to recruit these students with greater efficiency. Relationships are also perceived to have potential to contribute to HEI’s ability to develop a pipeline of students. In addition, this study finds that the exploitation aspect of organizational learning helps explain relationship formation between HEIs and NPOs.
|Advisor:||Perna, Laura W.|
|Commitee:||Ihrig, Martin, Quinn, Rand|
|School:||University of Pennsylvania|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Higher Education Administration, Educational leadership, Organization Theory|
|Keywords:||Administration, College access, Nonprofits, Organizational motivation, Partnership, Underrepresented students|
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