Skilled Cross-Sector Collaborators Help Schools Succeed, Study Finds

by James M. Loy  /   Sep 24, 2018

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Professor Don Hackmann and alumnus Joel R. Malin collaborate on 15-month study

Alumnus Joel R. Malin, Ph.D. ’15 EPOL, and Professor Donald Hackmann of the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership have published a study centered on cross-sector collaboration and integrative leadership surrounding an ambitious high school reform initiative.

Published in Educational Administration Quarterly, the project observed how cross-sector collaborators helped an urban school district create and maintain a large and successful reformation of college and career readiness by building career academies that partnered twelve high schools with individuals in the business community, higher education, nonprofit organizations, and civic groups.

During the 15-month study in the southern portion of the U.S., Hackmann and Malin conducted interviews and made observations while analyzing reports, school documents, and online material. They found that cross-sector leaders were important to the implementation and longevity of a career academy program that has improved during the course of 10 years.

In addition, Hackmann and Malin discovered that the cross-sector leaders helped develop important curricula by better understanding local economic conditions and employment needs. According to the study, the leaders were instrumental in establishing legitimacy, building trust, identifying shared goals, and interpreting sector-specific nuances.

Hackmann and Malin are hopeful the case study is a first step toward becoming a comprehensive framework designed just for educators. They believe that leading across organizational boundaries is increasingly crucial for enhanced change and progress, and that established partnerships make accomplishing goals more feasible compared to pursuing them individually.

Malin is an assistant professor in the College of Education, Health, and Society at Miami University. He and Hackmann have collaborated before on studies that centered on the promotion of college and career readiness by principals and high school teachers, work that was published in the Journal of Educational Administration and the journal Leadership and Policy in Schools.  

Read the full article on their most recent project together.

Photo by Miami University photographer Jeff Sabo