Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




David W. Leslie


American higher education is moving into a new phase in which environmental challenges are likely to intensify, threatening the survival of some institutions. Small private colleges, especially those that are reliant on enrollments and the tuition revenue that enrollments generate, are especially vulnerable to environmental challenges. This puts them at a competitive disadvantage with stronger private institutions and state-supported institutions. The formation of interorganizational relationships (IORs) is one coping strategy that may be an important factor for survival.;The purpose of this study is to examine interorganizational relationships in higher education using a comprehensive, theory-based model. The model examines both the partner characteristics and relationship characteristics of IORs. Partner characteristics describe the motivations institutions have for engaging in IOR behavior. It is the resource-based aspect of the model. Relationship characteristics describe the social aspects that help enable and maintain the IOR over time. The performance outcome is essentially the result of the IOR. It is a function of the level of perceived satisfaction among members in the IOR, and the measure of success by which members judge the relationship. Both partner characteristics and relationship characteristics contribute to success.;This was an instrumental case study examining a consortium of six small, private liberal arts colleges. Findings show that partner and relationship characteristics both contribute to the success of the IOR in this case; however, the desire for institutional autonomy is also an important factor in the perceived success of the IOR.



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