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Trust within higher education consortia: A phenomenological study of the experiences of directors and leaders

James A Yankech, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Trust is a foundational element for success within a higher education consortium. Defined as a group of colleges and universities united through collective effort, a consortium allows member institutions to achieve more cooperatively than alone. However these same institutions still compete in many ways – for students, government appropriations, and research dollars as examples. Therefore a balance must be struck between institutional and consortium interests. As a result trust between and among member institutions of a consortium becomes an important phenomenon to be understood. This study examined the phenomenon of trust from the perspective of consortia directors and leaders. Two literature reviews revealed three frameworks used for the study. A best practices in higher education consortia literature review revealed organization development human process theory as the first framework. A literature review of trust within and among organizations revealed social exchange and transaction cost economics theories as the two additional frameworks. A qualitative phenomenological research method was utilized. Nineteen consortium directors and leaders representing a variety of consortia were interviewed. Research questions related to basic requirements for the development of trust plus interpersonal and interorganizational trust were addressed. Collaboration, commonality, relationships, and leadership were the prominent themes that emerged from the study of experiences of directors and leaders. Data collected during participant interviews confirmed trust is a complex phenomenon that must be acknowledged and understood by directors and leaders of higher education consortia.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Educational leadership|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Yankech, James A, "Trust within higher education consortia: A phenomenological study of the experiences of directors and leaders" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3738582.