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Case Study: Regional Collaboration of Rural Community Colleges

Wednesday, September 23, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Amy Schulz, VP of Education & Membership, NACCE
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After a chance meeting at a statewide professional development event, in four short years two community college project directors united forces to grow two separate and relatively small projects into a multi-million dollar infusion for an entire region of eight community colleges. Because this region of Northern California is rural and sparsely populated, the community colleges previously were not competitive individually against other larger colleges in the state, such as in the Los Angeles region. By starting with a small partnership project and then growing a regional collaboration to include more partners and more colleges, the partnership was able to bring much needed resources to a neglected region.

The power of separate leaders choosing to work together to better serve their own constituents while developing a relationship that served the greater region can serve as an example for similar partnerships to flourish. In Collaborative Intelligence, Markova and McArthur describe the transition from a market-share economy to a mind-share economy, which places more value on relational assets as opposed to scarce material assets (2015, pp. 10-11). In this case study of a collaborative partnership, mind-share played a critical role not only in expanding wisdom and idea creation but in bridging networks and creating relational connections that would not have existed had it not been for the collaboration.

This partnership is unique from traditional teams because it was a loosely formed “team” of external partners, not made up of team from within a singular organization. Because of its organic formation, there was no formal authority figure overseeing the team’s processes and results. The partners intuitively navigated a mostly virtual collaboration, employing strategies and tools to successfully work together. The partners recognized weakness as well to glean lessons as the partnership and projects grew over the years. By examining current research in partnerships and collaboration, the concepts can be demonstrated through the Far North community college partnership in order to learn how relational partnerships create value for all parties involved.

Download the full case study here...

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