Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Mary S. Collins

Second Supervisor

Shannon P. Cleverley-Thompson


The purpose of the research was to identify and rate the factors that influence the development of a competitive advantage for graduate healthcare distance education programs as perceived by higher education institution administrators. For the purpose of this study, competitive advantage was defined as a benefit held by a higher education institution or program when it develops or acquires a value-creating quality that is not currently implemented by its competitors and is difficult to imitate. It promotes the development of a dominant position in a market. The research was performed using a quantitative, descriptive, and cross-sectional approach. An electronic survey was completed by 98 academic administrators (29.3% response rate) who oversee graduate healthcare distance education programs. The results demonstrated that 33 of the 38 suggested factors met the threshold to be considered as influential. Fourteen factors were perceived as “very influential” and 19 were perceived as “somewhat influential”. The strength of the program curriculum, the strength of the learning environment, and the strength of the course delivery methods rated the highest. Overall, the factors contained within the category of internal resources and capabilities were perceived as more influential when compared to the factors within the category of external industry structure and context. The results of this study provide a roadmap for academic programs to better implement their strategies and achieve their mission and goals. It encourages academic administrators to develop specific measures and establish benchmarks for the majority of the factors that influence the development of a competitive advantage.

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