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Becoming a “Game Changer”: Complete College America’s Role in U.S. Higher Education Policy Fields

Author(s): Erik G. Ness, Paul G. Rubin, Lindsey Hammond

Publisher: The International Journal of Higher Education Research

Year: 2020

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Established in 2009, Complete College America (CCA) has emerged as one of the leading single-issue intermediary organizations advocating policy solutions to improve college completion in the USA. Although other entities that influenced the policy conversation at that time have ceased operation, CCA has maintained and, in fact, expanded its role in US higher education policy. Through a collective case study developed from archival data and interviews with CCA officials and respondents from three member states (Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas), this study examines the evolution of CCA as an organization and investigates how it has been able to challenge other actors within the higher education field. Findings suggest that CCA created and strengthened its influence through strategic identification of members, pointed communication, and intentionally aligning themselves with power brokers in both the completion sphere and targeted states. This study highlights the growing role and influence of intermediary organizations in higher education policy conversations and offers insights into how these types of organizations influence decisionmaking in state and national strategic action fields.

Last Updated: 8/23/21