Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

James Barott, PhD

Committee Member

Jaclynn Tracy, PhD

Committee Member

Eboni Zamani, PhD


This longitudinal case study examined the origins, growth, and development of one community college in Michigan, North Central Michigan College (NCMC). The purpose of the study was to understand organizational persistence and change through learning how one organization formed and developed over time.

Five eras between 1958 and 1995 were described, and a conceptual frame considered three levels of organizational responsibility: national, state, and local environments; core technology activities; and leadership activities. Core technology activities were further analyzed using eight indicators of centrality and marginality: a) policy, b) number and type of employees, c) dedicated facilities; d) funding source, e) location of program, f) output; g) prestige, and h) legitimacy.

The interpretive approach was followed to examine organizational core values. Data collected included various historical documents, interviews, and participant observations. Findings indicated that during the founding era, the unique resort culture and economy in which the College exists set the stage for the development of its core technologies. The founders idealized North Central as a “real college” emphasizing a transfer/liberal arts curriculum. A strong resort-services core was also developed to provide educated employees for medical and business services in the resort economy. These two cores promoted the founding core values and had centrality in the organization.

The ensuing eras revealed the continuation of centrality of the two founding core technologies. Several other cores were developed; however, organizational commitment was low, and they were kept marginal, on the periphery of College operations.

The study concluded that North Central developed an identity based upon its founding core values. Its identity as a liberal arts transfer institution persisted throughout the study and drove decision-making behavior, causing the College to forego developing in ways contrary to its values. It showed that this educational organization was value- rather than market-driven.

Implications for future research, as well as for educational leadership, included using the indicators of centrality and marginality to gauge organizational commitment; using autopoiesis and resource dependency theories to explain persistence and change; and investigating the relationship between organizational core values, financial behavior, and policy- and decision-making.