A Review of Business/Education Partnerships in Southwest Iowa During the Late 1990s
Johnson, M. Merrill
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Historically, our nation has cultivated a strong tradition of business and education interaction. The intensity of business-education partnerships varied depending upon the inequities of the marketplace. This inclusion of academic secondary research from 1991 to 1997 forms a good theoretical framework for understanding partnership formation. Timpane and McNeil (1991) did influential research work that provides the benchmark for determining four distinct levels of partnerships. The significance of this work is reflected in its use in the theses as the foundation article. Supplementing the academic secondary research were multiple surveys and studies commissioned by education and business. Helped by this solid secondary research, the thesis was strategically shaped into an exploratory and qualitative research design. While some elements of the more traditional quantitative research design were incorporated, the former approach more accurately portrays this research design. The aggregate study sample encompasses eight communities throughout southwest Iowa, in which perceived local experts recommended had sufficient partnership activity. Within each of the selected communities a minimum of two educators and tow business representatives were questioned. Respondents were aggregate to encourage participation. Consequently, field interviews were later administered to gather data. Three fundamental research questions were pursued. (a) What was the contemporary state of partnerships in southwest Iowa? The community results varied, but the southwest Iowa partnerships appeared to as good as or better than the national average. The influence of STW legislation was dominant throughout the report, not only in providing direction, as well as funding the partnerships. In addition, the denotation of the term “partnership” may be too strong to consistently characterize the interaction between business and educational bodies. Finally, communities needed a minimum threshold of commerce, key institutional leadership, and a commitment of dedicated resources for basic partnership activities to flourish. (b.) Did partnerships produce a measurable outcome? The results seemed to be consistent with the national literature that partnerships, in general, were focused on measuring the number of activities, instead of the change in behavior. (c.) What external forces caused partnerships to form? Local issues, such as labor availability and economic development motivated participants to form partnerships. The promise of money to expand school districts’ budgets or simply the pursuit of securing funds cause the two entities to form relationships.