Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Dwight E. Giles, Jr.

Second Advisor

Sherry H. Penney

Third Advisor

William DeJong


Excessive college student drinking is a complex problem associated with a range of consequences including deaths, injuries, damage, health risks, legal difficulties, and academic problems. State governing boards, trustees and executives have enacted policies aimed at reducing the negative effects of excessive drinking. This study examined influences on university staff members responsible for implementation of alcohol-control policies. Deeper understanding of factors influencing alcohol-control policy implementation may help leaders improve policy making, implementation and attainment of policy objectives.

This mixed methods study utilized a sequential transformative mixed methods strategy with a quantitative survey, sequenced first, informing the prioritized qualitative multiple case study. Research was conducted at two public universities selected from a single state. In the quantitative phase students (n=1,252) completed a survey measuring student support for 33 alcohol-control measures. Staff (n=27) responsible for policy implementation completed a survey estimating student support for alcohol-control measures. Survey data informed development of the case study interview protocol. In the qualitative phase ten interviews were conducted at each case study site.

The study’s theoretical and conceptual model was based upon Pressman and Wildavsky’s (1973) implementation framework and Kotter’s (1996) eight-stage process for leading change. Findings from the quantitative phase of the study revealed strong levels of support for alcohol-control policies at both campuses while staff members generally underestimated student support for alcohol-control policies.

The key findings that emerged after coding case study data included the influences of: (a) executive leadership; (b) leadership transitions and policy saliency; (c) cognition and sensemaking; and, (d) anchoring changes in culture. Student support for alcohol-control policies was found to have no direct influence on staff members responsible for implementation of alcohol control policies.