Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terrence A. Tollefson

Committee Members

Russell F. West, Gunapala Edirisooriya, Andrew Czuchry


As accountability pressures have increased on community colleges, they have been challenged to demonstrate their value to the communities they serve. One role commonly included in community colleges' mission statements in Tennessee and nationally is support of local economic development. The purpose of the study was to assess the importance and accomplishment of 17 activities and 3 roles of Tennessee community colleges regarding their support of business incubators that provide resource-sharing networks to entrepreneurs in their critical startup phases.

To conduct this study, a questionnaire was developed and provided to administrators associated with incubators and incubator tenants to ascertain their perceptions regarding community college support of Tennessee incubators. The questionnaire was administered state wide through the assistance of existing Tennessee business incubator directors. The population for this study was Tennessee administrators associated with the incubators and the incubator tenants. Ninety-seven questionnaires out of 156 were returned, for a 62% response rate.

The findings of the study included: (1) there was general agreement between administrators and tenants on their perceptions of the degrees of accomplishment and importance of community college activities supporting incubators; (2) there also was agreement between administrators and tenants that the importance exceeded the accomplishment of community colleges' business incubation activities and aggregative roles; and (3) no relationship existed between demographic and institutional factors and how the tenants and administrators perceived the importance and accomplishment of community colleges' business incubation activities and roles.

Conclusions reached from this study were: (1) There was a need for increased community college efforts to support business incubation activities; and (2) demographic and institutional factors did not affect the overall perceptions of the importance and accomplishment of the community colleges' business incubation activities and roles.

Recommendations to improve Tennessee community colleges' practice included: (1) Administrative leaders at each community college should increase the time and money they devote to supporting their respective business incubator; and (2) each community college should use the assessment data from this study as a basis for a more detailed evaluation to develop or revise a strategic plan for business incubator support.

Recommendations for further research were to replicate this study in other states and for the entire nation. Using this and future studies, college administrators could target their community college services to better serve business incubator needs, thereby supporting the unique economic development activities in their respective service areas. As a consequence, the results of their revised strategic plans for incubator services could demonstrate how those community colleges' economic development efforts are being accountable to their missions.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.