Cross Sector Collaboration Champions: How Collective Impact Network Directors Lead for Educational Equity

by Twitchell Jenee Myers

Institution: University of Washington
Year: 2018
Keywords: Collective Impact; Cross Sector Collaboration; Educational Equity; Networks; Organizational Learning Theory; Systems Change; Educational leadership; Organization theory; Education policy; To Be Assigned
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2212811
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/40810


Collective impact, as a term and as a framework, has risen in popularity over the past six years as a set of guiding principles, processes, and measurement indicators aimed at addressing complex social issues. It has been employed perhaps the most by regional or city-wide efforts that aim to increase educational attainment, especially postsecondary attainment and education-to-workforce outcomes. Until very recently, little to no empirical evidence existed regarding the efficacy of the collective impact model nor the challenges or successes experienced by the practitioners attempting to implement the model with fidelity. A few recent empirical studies began to identify practical and theoretical gaps in the collective impact framework, including unrealistic preconditions and differences in practitioner experiences during implementation. The most common challenges to the collective impact framework identified by researchers have been its limitations for addressing systemic change (rather than more limited programmatic adjustments) and its failure to clearly identify and address basic causes of social inequality, such as racism and poverty. These limitations are an even bigger issue when considering the number of social issues to which the collective impact model has been applied, both within and outside of the field of education. This dissertation first synthesizes the myriad conceptual and theoretical frameworks for understanding social issue based collaboration efforts generated by researchers before the recent popularity of the collective impact framework. I then locate education-focused efforts within the boundaries of cross-sector collaborations. I next synthesize the various empirical and prescriptive models for measuring the outcomes of collaborative efforts, especially those that attempt to explain the earliest years of those efforts. The earliest years of collaborative efforts can be the most difficult to study because of a lack of formalized accountability and hit-or-miss administrative processes. Such an ambiguous context can mean that early indicators of success are amorphous and are rarely clearly defined ahead of time. This makes the work of champions (network leaders in this case) extremely difficult and fraught with key decisions for which there is little guidance or research. Given the ambiguous nature of these early efforts as well as the importance of network leaders in establishing collaborative norms during the first few years, this dissertation uses organizational learning theory and the integrative leadership framework to understand the practices and approaches network leaders apply to their work during those earliest years. Using information gained from a pilot study that followed the implementation of 14 collective impact networks in field during their earliest years, this qualitative, multiple case study examines the strategies and behaviors of collective impact network champions. This study explores the extent to which those championsspecifically the network directorsof cross-sector,Advisors/Committee Members: Taylor, Ed (advisor).