Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea L. Beach

Second Advisor

Dr. Daniel Gaymer

Third Advisor

Dr. Pamela Eddy


Partnerships, community college, workforce development, motivation, social capital, communication


The financial resources in rural areas are not plentiful, which has impacted the workforce development offices’ ability to provide training on their own. These workforce development offices rely on partnerships to provide training to the community. There are multiple motivations that align between workforce development office and community organizations. The social capital in a partnership is utilized in these rural areas to accomplish mutual goals between multiple organizations that one could not complete on alone. Social capital in a partnership includes trust, centrality, information, and density. Communication helps to support the motivation, social capital and hence the sustainability of a partnership.

The motivation to partner, social capital, and communication all play a part in the formation of successful partnership. Previous research on the topic leads to the research questions explored in this study. The first primary research question seeks to understand how successful partnerships are formed between workforce development offices and businesses. The sub-questions examine the motivation and social capital that takes place during this formation. The second primary research question examines the communication practices that take place during the formation of successful partnerships. The sub-questions examine the internal and external communication the workforce development practitioners have during this formation. I examined two case studies that involved interviews, observations, and document analysis to determine what these factors looked like in a successful partnership.

The participants expressed the importance of relationships as a resource in rural areas. The participants expressed their needs, kept a pulse on the partners, strengthened links with other partners, knew signposts of formation, and knew that communication supports the formation process. The findings that emerged match findings in the past literature and highlight the rural context and concepts of motivation, social capital, and communication. The partnerships formed with rural serving community colleges have the ability to help the greater community. Finally, there are seven recommendations for best practices in creating a successful rural partnership: express the message, keep a pulse on motivations, value information, determine who is central, be honest and trustworthy, request informal meetings, and be mindful of communication.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access