Boundary-spanning behaviors of individuals engaged with the U.S. military community
Mull, Casey Downs
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The public sector’s use of networked governance reflects a similar orientation of U.S. higher education institutions to engaged scholarship and community-university partnerships. These and other forms of adult education now have greater reliance on networked governance methods for their delivery and administration. Individuals at the nexus of networked governance and community engagement often take on boundary spanning roles for their organizations. This study examined the behaviors of boundary spanners currently involved in the partnership of U.S. higher education institutions and the U.S. military to support military family services through educational programming in a networked governance model. A research team created a selected response instrument for use with multiple audiences and contexts based on a qualitative study of higher education community engagement boundary spanning individuals. This study found that work/organizational characteristics were significant predictors of boundary-spanning behaviors while personal characteristics were not as influential as thought. Boundary-spanning behavior can be encouraged by the organization in a variety of ways. Communications remain an important influence on boundary spanning behaviors. The study reconceptualizes a prior qualitative study through exploratory factor analysis. The reconceptualization found that the data mirrors the original, qualitative study on which the quantitative instrument was based. The selected response instrument has applicability to other contexts where individuals cross boundaries in order to complete work in a community. Several individual, organizational, and societal implications and opportunities for replication and expanded research in the realm of boundary spanning are discussed.