© 2021 International Society for Performance Improvement.This study aims to investigate the causes of the performance deficiencies of distance faculty in Turkey and to design interventions for performance improvement accordingly. This article presents the first part of this comprehensive study: causes of the performance deficiencies. The externality–tangibility (E-T) model of human performance guided the study, and grounded theory research design was employed. The participants were all stakeholders of distance education (DE): DE experts including the national policy makers, the faculty, administrators, students, and support staff. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews, through observations on distance courses, and from the relevant documents. Interview schedules were developed separately for each participant group. The gathered data were analyzed using constant comparative analysis, and the findings of the first part are presented here by using Ishikawa diagrams. These findings reveal diverse but interrelated causes of the deficiencies classified according to the nine elements of the E-T model.