Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Len Hightower, Ph.D
Tod Burnett, Ed.D
Sheila L. Steinberg, Ph.D
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of organizational culture and campus leadership on the development of organizational learning practices in California community colleges. A secondary purpose of the study was to explore the role of organizational culture and campus leadership in facilitating second order change in California community colleges.
Methodology: This multiple case study used a design with embedded unit of analysis to understand the impact of organizational culture and campus leadership on the development of organizational learning practices and facilitation of second order change in California community colleges. Three colleges were selected as case sites and examined using Schein’s dimensions of organizational learning culture as a theoretical framework. Data from each case site were collected through semi-structured interviews with formal and informal campus leaders, as well as from documents, artifacts, and publicly available archival records.
Findings: Several elements of organizational culture and leadership were found to have an impact on organizational learning and play a role in the facilitation of second order change, including proactive, transparent communication; culturally resonant framing; alignment of internal and external expectations; an intentional learning mindset; and cultivation of relationships characterized by a high degree of trust and psychological safety.
Conclusions: Trust, psychological safety, and proactive communication serve as a foundation for intentional organizational learning and provide stability during times of disruption and change. Community colleges that develop an intentional learning mindset and take the time to frame second order changes using culturally resonant language will have more success managing disconfirming information and adapting to disruptive changes. Colleges with a shared perception that members have the capacity and resources to support learning are better able to decrease learning anxiety and increase confidence in the outcome of a change.
Recommendations: Community college leaders should actively cultivate trust and psychological safety within the culture before engaging in second order changes, and ensure that plans are in place for ensuring timely, transparent, culturally resonant communication throughout a change implementation. Community college leaders can increase capacity for organizational learning and change by expanding time, energy, and funding to support these activities.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Webb, Catherine Ellen, "Culture, Leadership, and Organizational Learning in California Community Colleges: Exploring the Potential for Second Order Change" (2018). Dissertations. 154.