Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Sarah Jane Brubaker

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard R. Huff

Third Advisor

Dr. Myung H. Jin

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Eugene P. Trani


Higher education institutions in the Unites States (U.S.) are under stress. Universities and colleges in the U.S. face competing demands marked by steeply declining state and local appropriations and increased competition for research dollars and prestige. This stress is felt most acutely at high and very high research universities who must face these funding challenges while at the same time must serve a multiplicity of missions and stakeholders.

This study examines factors that influence institutional performance at high and very high research universities in the U.S. These high and very high research universities, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching under the 2010 Basic Classifications, represent doctorate granting institutions with the highest levels of research activity. Drawing from systems theory and neoliberalism, the study employs a non-experimental quantitative research design using secondary analysis of data collected primarily through the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The data was analyzed for the years 2008 through 2012.

Given a competitive environment marked by decreasing resources, the findings suggest that universities, whether public or private, will continue to pursue strategies and policies that will favor entrepreneurial activities with clear revenue implications as well as attracting top students in an effort to increase institutional performance. The need for further research into institutional factors and performance models is identified as well as the need for comprehensive institutional data. The concept of policy alignment is introduced as a way to cope with demands at all levels of policy.

To the extent that high and very high research universities continue to face a competitive environment with decreasing state and federal resources, greater understanding of institutional factors that can impact revenues will become important as competition for revenues increase. Performance models such as the one explored in this study can help universities, policy makers, and stakeholders make decisions and set policies that can bolster the institutions’ activities given environmental challenges.


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