Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Tony Kong, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard Will, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Hammond, DBA


collective impact, industry-education collaboration, skills gap, workforce pipeline


The widening skills gap and growing demand for workers has led to evidenced-based practices to connect the supply and demand to fill the void. Cross-sector partnerships have emerged as an approach to address the workforce skills gap. The purpose of this case study was to understand the experiences of businesses who engaged in cross-sector partnerships to identify common themes, specifically why they engaged, what limited engagement, and how cross-sector partnerships sustained and grew engagement. With businesses playing such a vital role in cross-sector partnerships, it is important to understand these questions to help expand engagement by other businesses in the future. The study was designed as qualitative single case study research using face-to-face interviews of six senior executives representing industries facing critical workforce shortages. Findings revealed commonality amongst the overall experiences of participants, described through three themes. Specifically, findings revealed the same value propositions for engaging, most importantly for social good and supporting company growth by finding talent, drove participants. The top challenges they faced were being part of a complex system that caused duplication, confusion, and competition amid limited resources and egos as well as limited outcomes for partnerships that weren’t action driven. The following six common motivators resulted: being action driven with outcomes; establishing alignment; creating awareness of initiatives and resources available; providing clarity for how to engage; ensuring senior leadership buy-in; using a neutral convenor to support partnership operations. The study findings have implications for practitioners of economic and workforce development and higher education who are focused on talent development.