Academic journal article Community College Review

Making the Case for a Positive Approach to Improving Organizational Performance in Higher Education Institutions: The Community College Abundance Model

Academic journal article Community College Review

Making the Case for a Positive Approach to Improving Organizational Performance in Higher Education Institutions: The Community College Abundance Model

Article excerpt

Increasingly hostile and turbulent environments have rendered top-down, problem-focused management structures inadequate for competing in the ever-changing postsecondary knowledge industry. The community college abundance model (CCAM), a strengths-based approach to performance enhancement in community colleges, is presented as a viable alternative. The CCAM draws on positive psychology, positive organizational scholarship, and positive organizational behavior.

Keywords: community college abundance model; performance enhancement; postsecondary education

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Community colleges operate at the nexus of traditional higher education and workforce preparation; are bound by service to constituencies at the local, state, societal, and global levels; and serve diverse and often underprepared student populations. They are guided not by one or even two missions but typically by a metamission including, but not limited to, providing traditional academic programs; workforce development; adult and basic education; noncredit, lifelong, and life enhancement education; and, often, dual-enrollment opportunities for high school students. In addition, in smaller communities, these institutions regularly serve as the primary business incubator, cultural center, and entry point into higher education. Carrying out these missions has become more difficult as a result of the social, economic, and technological revolutions occurring across the globe and the ever-changing and increasingly demanding nature of community college stakeholders (Bragg, 2001). Given their multiple markets and numerous external stakeholders, community colleges are less insulated from the impact of environmental changes than are other higher education institutions, yet they are still called on to deliver greater proof of value delivered. The reality is these institutions need to more effectively maneuver through environmental shifts, changing stakeholder expectations, and increasing competition than most higher education entities.

Employing traditional methods of increasing revenues, decreasing costs, and otherwise focusing on a deficit model of management fixated on solving problems will prevent 2-year colleges from delivering exceptional value, realizing organizational potential, or effectively making use of their full array of available resources. In proposing an alternative management philosophy, this article draws on positive psychology, positive organizational scholarship (POS), and positive organizational behavior (POB) to propose a community college abundance model (CCAM) that offers a framework for assessing and continually improving organizational performance through the leveraging of key resources. The model is the result of practical knowledge, an extensive reconceptualization of existing literature bases, and research conducted in the development of an upcoming publication explaining the model in greater detail (Alfred, Shults, & Jaquette, in press). The following pages provide a rationale for the model in today's changing environment, summarize the theoretical frameworks on which the model is based, detail the development and components of the model, and briefly describe initial research undertaken to assess the model's applicability in community colleges.

Background

In today's changing environment, simply eliminating staff and programs, increasing tuition, and attempting to increase efficiency will not lead to greater organizational performance within community colleges. Even if cuts are strategic, new revenue sources are always available and can be created through increased entrepreneurial activities and comprehensive environmental scans that help determine which programs and areas to grow and which to scale back (Alfred & Associates, 2005). In addition, lowered levels of funding, increasing student expectations for convenience and relevance, and increasingly competitive environments have created more hostile and volatile markets for colleges and universities. …

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