First Advisor

Craig W. Shinn

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Administration




Organizational effectiveness, Higher Education -- Environmental aspects, Higher education and state, Public universities and colleges -- Finance



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 203 p.) : ill.


The world of today's higher education organizations is characterized by complexities brought about as a result of rapid change, economic and political turbulence, and increasing global interdependence. The complexity of the environment in which colleges and universities operate is also due in part to a need to serve multiple internal and external constituencies. In order to be more responsive to the demands of its numerous constituencies and at the same time preserve their intrinsic values, colleges and universities need to know how effective they are in what they do. This research asked: To what degree does institutional effectiveness allow public colleges and universities to operate in a sustained manner over a long period of time while meeting the needs of their constituencies? The lack of criteria about what constitutes effectiveness in higher education contributes to the lack of research in this area of organizational theory. This research examined organizational effectiveness and its measurement in higher education environment using a survey of multiple internal and external constituencies. The purpose of the survey was to gather information regarding participants' perceptions about educational outcomes, processes, and environment in higher education organizations. In addition, given the changes in how higher education institutions are financed and the potential implications of these changes for effectiveness, this research explored the degree to which resource dependence, primarily dependence on public funding, influences the effectiveness of public colleges and universities. To address these questions the research tested the applicability of the sustainability framework as a model of effectiveness in higher education. The study suggests modification of the elements of the sustainability and extends the use of the concept of environment as it is defined in the sustainability framework to the concept of environment as defined in organizational theory. The sustainability framework has not been tested in this way before. The results indicate that there is promise in using the sustainability framework in this modified form and suggest that this concept is worthy of further exploration. Additionally, the study examined the role of multiple constituencies in defining effectiveness in higher education. The findings indicate that there are significant differences in perceptions of effectiveness among the groups of constituencies examined in the study. Finally, the results suggest that sources of public funding and the amount of money institutions spend per student have an influence on some aspects of effectiveness. To examine this further, the study explores the role of the political and fiscal environment in which institutions of higher education operate and offers institutional theory as a basis to explain resource dependence in public higher education. The findings of this study contribute to the field of organizational effectiveness, aid in understanding the role that public funding plays in higher education effectiveness, and contribute to the field of organizational theory more generally.


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Hatfield School of Government. Division of Public Administration.

Persistent Identifier