A Qualitative Inquiry Into a Community College Leadership Development Program

Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Committee Chair

Eric Hutchison

Committee Member

Lori Salgado

Committee Member

Tim Reymann


Leadership development programs offer the opportunity for an organization to invest within to identify and support the next generation of leaders. Community colleges are complex organizations whose survival depends on competent leaders who can address the organization's business and academic needs. The academia and departmental isolation culture inhibits the cross-departmental collaboration needed to develop a broad spectrum of leadership capabilities. While a wealth of scholarship is dedicated to the outcomes of leadership development programs in the business sector, there needs to be more insight into the impact a leadership development program can have at a community college. This study relied upon Kolb’s experiential learning theory to examine the development and distal outcomes of cross-departmental collaboration skills of the participants of a community college’s leadership development program. This theoretical framework was used to understand how participants of a leadership community college described the change in their leadership skills to improve cross-department work. A generic qualitative methodology was used for this study of 15 former community college leadership development program participants to understand how the program affected their cross-departmental collaboration skills before, during, and up to one year after the program. The qualitative coding of semi-structured interviews allowed the development of major themes embedded within the participants’ experiences. Key themes from this study include a significant increase in personal confidence, cross-departmental collaboration improvements to campus governance, and barriers to cross-departmental collaboration induced by the relationship between the community college and the leadership development program. Greater research into the relationship between the program and the organization is needed to understand further the cross-departmental collaboration potential of leadership development programs within community colleges.