Bridges and barriers: The impact of structure on coordination in civic engagement

Kelly A Grady, University of Pennsylvania


Little is known about structure as a means to coordinate civic engagement, which is interdisciplinary and inclusive of human development requiring contributions from academic affairs and student affairs. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of organizational structure on coordination in civic engagement through qualitative case studies of Saint Mary's College of Maryland, Rhodes College, and Elon University. When the mission statement inclusive of civic engagement was a pervasive conceptual frame it reduced the need for centralized organizational structures that emphasize control. An integrating manager or matrix was appropriate. Without a pervasive mission a highly centralized structure, such as a civic engagement center was necessary to sustain programmatic efforts. There were significant barriers to student affairs collaboration with faculty that required student affairs' initiative to overcome. Individual student affairs professionals collaborated with faculty when they linked civic engagement to faculty's teaching and research responsibilities or to student mentors. Student affairs division's civic engagement efforts were integrated with academic affairs when student affairs saw its work as educational and utilized the mission and general education goals as the basis of their operations. Despite the importance of a common conceptual frame to coordinate civic engagement efforts, none of the colleges or university in this study had a definition of civic engagement, which diluted their efforts.

Subject Area

School administration|Curriculum development|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Grady, Kelly A, "Bridges and barriers: The impact of structure on coordination in civic engagement" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3310498.