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Leadership style and outcome behaviors of higher education consortium directors in the United States

Mark E Shelton, Johnson & Wales University


Consortia offer ways for higher education institutions to share resources, develop new initiatives, and innovatively address problems. Leadership has been identified as an important contributor to consortium effectiveness (Williams, 2001). Although, consortium directors with marginal positional power are tasked with building collaborations between autonomous institutions (Glazer, 1982; Neal, 1984; Patterson, 1974), little is known about the leadership styles they employ. As a result, the study addressed research questions targeted at determining the most common self-perceived leadership style and outcome behaviors used by higher education consortium directors; the differences in perceived leadership style between multi-purpose and general-purpose consortium directors; the relationship between self-perceived leadership style and self-perceived outcome behaviors of consortium directors; and the relationship between the demographic characteristics of the director and the organizational characteristics of their consortia, and reported leadership style and outcome behaviors. A quantitative dominant sequential mixed methods explanatory study was used. The study was distinctive because it asked both multi-purpose and general-purpose higher education consortium directors (N = 113) to identify how frequently they employed a range of behaviors using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Avolio & Bass, 2004), and because it examined leadership within the higher education consortium environment. In all, 49% of the consortium directors replied electronically via SurveyMonkey to the questionnaire (n = 55). To improve and clarify understanding of the questionnaire results, multi-purpose consortium directors were interviewed until saturation was reached (N = 11). Higher education consortium directors reported employing transformational leadership style more than any other. Being female and holding at least a master's degree were the only demographic characteristics that tended to increase the frequency of already high transformational leadership behaviors reported by consortium directors. Additionally, there were no notable differences in leadership style with respect organizational characteristics of the consortium. With little positional power available to higher education consortium directors, transformational leadership may be the only style they can employ to be effective. Multi-purpose consortium directors were found to support primarily internally focused collaborations, whereas general purpose consortium directors supported primarily externally focused collaborations.

Subject Area

Educational administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Shelton, Mark E, "Leadership style and outcome behaviors of higher education consortium directors in the United States" (2008). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3315152.