Academic journal article School Community Journal

School-Business Partnerships: Understanding Business Perspectives

Academic journal article School Community Journal

School-Business Partnerships: Understanding Business Perspectives

Article excerpt


The relationships among schools and the communities in which they operate are essential to student learning (Juszczak, Moody, & Vega-Matos, 1998). These partnerships provide many and varied benefits which include increasing school capacity and enhancing educational experiences for students (Abowitz, 2000; Willems & Gonzalez-DeHass, 2012; Ziegler, 2001). There are, however, limited sources of information which clarify the priorities and perspective of for-profit business leaders in the realm of the school-business partnership (Lee & Abdulghani, 2015). This research is aimed at addressing that gap. Directly stated, the purpose of this research is to explore the definition, form, and scope of what effective school-business partnerships look like from the perspective of business leaders, owners, and managers in two distinct and diverse areas of Texas. The author hopes knowledge gained from this research will support the ability of education leaders at the school and district levels to engage community business leaders in meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships that will ultimately support effective instruction on the school level.

Literature Review

Benefits of School-Business Relationships

MacQueen et al. (2001) asserted that a community is characterized by individuals in a common geographical location connected by social ties who share common goals or perspectives. As members of a community, businesses have both a stake and a vested interest in the local schools' effectiveness. According to Radinsky, Bouillion, Lento, and Gomez (2001), meaningful relationships among community businesses and their local schools add value to both parties.

In order to build such partnerships, it is important to understand what they should look like and how they should operate. Bryan and Henry (2012) assert the relationship among the business and the local school system involves multiple stakeholders operating in a reciprocal relationship which accomplishes mutual goals. That stated, business leaders want to partner with schools in a way that is more meaningful than surface-level sponsorship (Gross et al., 2015).

There are many benefits to such partnerships. According to Willems and Gonzalez-DeHass (2012), school-business partnerships can support the creation of learning experiences which foster students' ability to connect academic content to a real-world context. They maintain these partnerships provide for authentic instruction and problem-based learning that will help students deal with real problems in their lives. As an illustration of this assertion, Ziegler (2001) wrote of student experiences borne out of such partnerships which include (but are not limited to) internships and job shadowing.

Abowitz (2000) affirmed the value of a school-business partnership, maintaining that each partner has a unique role to play in advancing student preparation for meaningful participation in society. She discussed the funding, professional expertise, and practical curriculum often missing from the school context that can be provided through a business partnership. Hands (2005) articulates the benefits of such partnerships as being two-fold. First, these partnerships benefit students by enhancing their learning opportunities. Secondly, such partnerships support high school to career transitions for students.

Additionally, Tracey, Hornery, Seaton, Craven, and Yeung (2014) discuss how such partnerships can fill an emerging gap in community-based support at the school. According to Tracey et al., it has become more difficult to garner parent volunteers at the school. Thus, cultivating supportive relationships with businesses is increasingly important.

Associated Risks

Unfortunately, while there are benefits to school-business partnerships, the literature is also clear there are risks. Risks identified in a review of literature range from benign neglect and ultimate dissolving of established relationships to more destructive circumstances where one partner exerts power over another. …

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