The evolution of one higher education consortium on NK fitness landscapes: a case study



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Texas Tech University


The focus of this research was on the adaptive evolution of a singie higher education consortium--the Higher Education Consortium of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The major purpose of this in-depth case study was to apply Kauffman's NK model of rugged fitness landscapes, a model grounded in nonlinear dynamical systems theory, as a viable conceptual framework for studying the structure of an evolving higher education consortium.

This research addressed two questions in order to provide a more complete understanding of higher education consortia: (1) How does the structure of a higher education consortium evolve over time? and (2) What factors affect the adaptive evolution of a higher education consortium on NK fitness landscapes?

A case study approach using qualitative research methods was chosen as the most appropriate design for investigating the organization and evolution of the Consortium. Data collection methods utiiized include document gathering, participant observation, and informant interviews; field notes, reflexive journai entries, and audio recordings were three data coiiection techniques used. Data analysis was accomplished with a modified constant comparative method using analytic techniques of coding, theoretical sampling, and comparative analysis.