Assessing the leadership profile of appointed second-line administrators in the American community college : a case study

Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor's Name

Stephen M Fain

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Douglas H. Smith

Third Advisor's Name

Barry Greenberg

Fourth Advisor's Name

James Caplan

Fifth Advisor's Name

Kingsley Banya


Community colleges, United States, Administration, College administrators, Leadership

Date of Defense



This qualitative study investigates the perceptions of leadership practices of associate deans/directors in the community college as compared to that of exemplary leaders in other organizational contexts, and the impact of specific rater characteristics on those perceptions. Fifteen associate deans/director's from a multi-campus institution in the southeastern United States rated themselves on the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) Kouzes and Posner (1987), which identifies five dimensions of exemplary leadership. A select number of subordinates, peers, and supervisors of these associate deans/directors simultaneously rated these leaders on an alternate form of the LPI. A demographic survey and in-depth interviews were used to gather data on rater characteristics, such as gender and cultural/ethnic orientation, leadership training, and campus culture. Nine associate deans/directors and their subordinates from a single campus institution in the Midwest who had completed the LPI a year earlier constituted a validation case. This study found that (a) the leadership profile of associate deans/directors in the community college was similar to that of exemplary leaders in other contexts, (b) significant differences in perceptions among leaders and their co-workers occurred on three dimensions of the LPI, and (c) specific rater characteristics and contextual variables did not significantly affect perceptions as measured by the LPI. Information gathered from in-depth interviews amplify these findings. Associate deans/directors perceive their jobs as one of support (staff) rather than line positions and with limited power or influence. Even though they report familiarity with concepts of leadership, these leaders do not consistently engage in planned, systematic feedback from co-workers. Additionally, data point to the possible influence of a campus, or site-based, culture on the leadership practices of the associate deans/directors.



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