Date of Award

Summer 8-29-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Len Hightower

Second Advisor

Kathryn Mueller

Third Advisor

Eric Rabitoy


Purpose: Community colleges across the United States are implementing systemic change models such as guided pathways to increase student success. The purpose of this multiple case study was to describe the role of strategic governance in the implementation of guided pathways at scale at California community colleges.

Methodology: This phenomenological qualitative study used a multiple-case embedded case study methodology to collect data aligned with the four imperatives of strategic governance theory. Semistructured interviews were conducted with campus leaders involved in guided pathways implementation at three California community colleges. Archival records and documentation were used to triangulate the data.

Findings: Colleges balance the imperatives of involvement, efficiency, environment, and leadership across the domains of strategic planning and governance when implementing guided pathways. Inclusiveness, intentional alignment, interdependent leadership, and internal/external synergy emerged as essential elements of strategic governance during pathways efforts.

Conclusions: Community colleges leverage inclusive and credible strategic planning and governance systems to create a stable foundation for institutional redesign. A networked system that relies on interdependent leadership and interfaces informal elements with formal structures promotes and accelerates efficiency. A proactive, reflective, student-centered approach to managing environmental demands helps maintain focus.

Recommendations: Community college leaders should deliberately increase engagement in decision-making processes and strengthen the integrity of strategic planning and governance systems. Leaders should define the parameters of pathways teams, establish logical connections between informal and formal structures, and encourage mutual reliance in pathways leadership. Leaders should cultivate a systems mindset and use embedded reflective practices to guide implementation.