With a growing concern that society’s needs are not being met, there are
heightened expectations for accountability for public purposes. At the same time
higher education institutions are experiencing increasing competition, as well as
decreasing state support for public higher education. The concern is that competition
for resources is overtaking accountability for public purposes.
Using an observational correlational research design, this study explored the
relationships between institutional competition for resources and accountability for
public purposes at the undergraduate level among 428 U. S. public four-year
institutions. The study examined institutional competition organized around the four
key markets that generate institutional revenues (student enrollment, research funding,
public fiscal support, and private giving) and institutional accountability for public
purposes defined by accountability measures most frequently included in state-level
performance accountability systems (access, affordability, and completion). The
relationship between institutional competition for resources and accountability for
public purposes was also examined considering institutional fiscal health and market segment. The accountability triangle, resource dependency theory, and postsecondary
market taxonomy provided a conceptual framework for the study.
The results of the study indicate a statistically significant relationship between
institutional competition for resources and institutional accountability for public
purposes. In particular, a negative relationship was observed between institutional
competition and accountability for access (R2 = .16) and affordability (R2 = .05), and a positive relationship was observed between institutional competition and
accountability for completion (R2 = .09). Institutional fiscal health was a statistically
significant factor in only the relationship between institutional competition and
accountability for access producing an increase in the predictive power of the model
(R2 = .16 to R2 = .18). In addition, no differences were found in the nature of the
relationship between institutional competition and institutional accountability for
public purposes across the market segments of higher education.
Most importantly, this study provides empirical evidence of a relationship
between the complicated constructs of institutional competition for resources and
institutional accountability for public purposes at the undergraduate level within U.S.
public four-year institutions. With the force of institutional competition likely to
increase and the necessity for higher education to serve public purposes critical,
additional research further exploring the relationships between institutional competition and institutional accountability at the undergraduate level is crucial.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. January 2012. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Dr. Darwin D. Hendel. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 193 pages, appendices A-B.
Akey, Lynn D..
Institutional Accountability and competition for resources in undergraduate education among U.S. public four-year institutions..
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