Influence, policy formation, and higher education in Florida: 1989-1994

Edward Allen Blackwell, Florida International University


This study examined the perceptions of state governmental officials and administrators from the state university system, community college system, and independent institutions concerning the ability of various groups to influence state-level higher education policy formation. The study was conducted in Florida for the period 1989-94. Florida has a history of legislative involvement in higher education, a unique system of state universities and community colleges, and a limited number of private institutions of higher education. This study was grounded in the works of Mortimer and McConnell (1978), Millett (1987), Marshall, Mitchell, and Wirt (1989) and Finitfer, Baldwin, and Thelin (1991). The study represented the application of an embedded, single-case design. A survey was the primary collection instrument. Respondents were asked questions concerning: (a) personal involvement in higher education, (b) perceptions of the ability of various groups to influence higher education policy, (c) the names of particular individuals considered key players in higher education policy formation, (d) important state-level documents, (e) personal knowledge of key areas of policy formation, and (f) emerging higher education issues in Florida. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyze the different sections of the survey. The findings indicated that a power and influence hierarchy exists among the various groups that attempt to influence higher education policy and that this hierarchy is recognized by state government officials and higher education administrators. While an analysis of variance of the various groups revealed a few differences between state government officials and higher education personnel, the high overall agreement was an important finding. Leading members of the legislature, especially the Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, and key staff members, especially from the Senate Ways & Means Committee, were considered the most influential. Representatives from higher education institutions and research organizations were considered among the least influential. Emerging issues identified by the respondents included: (a) the political nature of state-level policy formation, (b) the role of legislative staff, (c) the competition for state moneys, (d) legislative concern for state-wide budgetary efficiency, and (e) legislative attempts to define quality and supervise academic program development for higher education.

Subject Area

Higher education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Blackwell, Edward Allen, "Influence, policy formation, and higher education in Florida: 1989-1994" (1997). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9728862.