A bounded case study of the perceptions of community leaders
Williams, Jana Nicole
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The purpose of this bounded case study was to explore how rural leaders experience community development and to understand the perceptions of community leaders in identifying and promoting community assets, including human assets and learning. Research questions that guided this study were as follows: (1) How do community leaders experience rural community development? (2) What roles do community leaders play in creating a learning environment through rural community development? (3) How do rural community leaders define assets, specifically human assets and learning opportunities, within this rural south Georgia community? (4) In what ways do community leaders utilize assets in community development activities? This study examined how rural community leaders view and utilize their roles as community leaders in the community development process. Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) served as the conceptual framework for this study and guided the examination of adult learning opportunities as assets in the rural community studied. This bounded case study explored the role of 12 rural community leaders of a particular south Georgia county. These 12 leaders were chosen based on formal leadership positions or by a snowball method of participant selection. The participants responded to interview questions involving their roles in community development and their perceptions of assets the County holds, including adult learning programs or activities. As a result of the process of constant comparative method of analysis, four themes emerged from the data collected: (1) varying definitions of community development from community leaders, including an inseparable connection between community and economic development in rural development and a strong response from participants describing the people within the community, (2) the importance of collaboration among community citizens and entities in the community development process, (3) the existence of politics in identifying and utilizing assets in community development, and (4) a weak acknowledgment and utilization of adult learning opportunities as assets to aid in rural development. From these findings, four conclusions emerged: (1) economic development is a key component of community development, (2) communication and collaboration among community leaders and citizens are key components of a community’s development, (3) community development is a political process characterized by the exclusion of key assets, and (4) community leaders must see adult learning opportunities as assets in the community development process.