Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Iowa Community College Online Consortium; Community colleges--Iowa--Administration; Distance education--Iowa;


In the competitive arena of distance education, the strategy of inter-institutional collaboration has been cast as a promising approach in reducing costs, expanding services, and demonstrating responsiveness. However, the work involved with collaborative arrangements has proven difficult, and the results have frequently failed to meet expectations.

The problem this research sought to address is that little is known about the factors involved in making distance education collaborations work. The Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC) was selected as a unit of analysis on the basis of purposeful sampling. The ICCOC, a comprehensive distance education collaboration involving seven member colleges, has demonstrated a pattern of rapid enrollment growth and financial sustainability. The purpose of the study was to identify, describe, and offer an interpretation of the key factors that contribute to the viability of the ICCOC.

The question that framed this inquiry was: "What key factors, individually and in combination, contribute to the viability of the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC)?" Data was collected using multiple sources, including document review, direct observations, and semi-structured interviews with seventeen members of Oversight Committee, the group charged with planning and administering all aspects of the organization. Data was analyzed using content analysis and constant comparisons, and categories and themes were identified. Triangulation, member checks, and researcher reflexivity were used to establish and maintain the trustworthiness of the findings.

The analysis and interpretation of the data suggests a complex set of interdependent factors in the context, inputs, structures, processes, and outcomes of the consortium have contributed to the organization's viability. Two overarching patterns, sound business practices and positive group relationships, and the prevalent culture of the ICCOC---reflected in its values, beliefs, and norms---illustrate how the factors have blended and interacted to influence the performance of the organization.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

Michael Waggoner, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 208 pages)



File Format