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This dissertation research addresses issues related to how recent and pending public policies reframe the mission, operations, and evaluation of community colleges as a sub-sector of the post-secondary education in Florida. It focuses on understanding the contemporary context in which key organizational members contribute to the organizational change of the community college in the state. It examines if and how those conditions influence administrative behaviors, such as government actions in legislation that affect community colleges, and, in particular, the political, economic, and institutional dynamics leading to the adoption of policies that permit community colleges to grant bachelor degrees. Community colleges offering a stand-alone baccalaureate is a significant change in both the potential consequences and the implications of how it arose. The new policy augurs the possibility of conflict between these institutions and nearby public universities over access to students. These and other dynamics bode a rocky future for the initiative. On another, theoretical, front is the question of how such initiatives arise and succeed in the first place. Politics are clearly part of the answer, but this study is designed specifically to provide a more definitive and nuanced answer. This study integrates grounded theory with frame analysis by selectively coding for policy frames and their related concepts to be emerged in the course of analysis. The analysis is built around the framing activities of a few policy entrepreneurs. It describes the process by which they constructed a principal frame and discusses the frame adjustment activities that the principal actors initiated to make existing systems compatible with the new frame. The theoretical propositions of the study are that framing processes can be associated with first-order and second order change, that frames are never tidy and that the most important feature of a frame is its ambiguity, and that although the framing processes may produce an impression that the punctuated equilibrium model is at play here, it is not because the new policy as well as the frames created by the participants were socially constructed and, hence, prone to further alterations.
A Dissertation Submitted to the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Ralph Brower, Professor Directing Dissertation; Beverly Bower, Outside Committee Member; Lance deHaven Smith, Committee Member; Earle W. Klay, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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