American pioneers in neophyte private higher education: Where the mission meets the market
This dissertation is a qualitative study of three pioneer-educators who launched nonprofit private colleges in a competitive, mature higher education industry. Since the end of the Civil Rights Era, many private nonprofit colleges merged or closed in response to intensified market pressures (Keller, 1983; McGinn, 2000; and, Van Der Werf, 1999). Evolving labor demands, coupled with rapid development of nontraditional schools, fueled the competition from for-profit and non-degree universities (Collis, 2001; Levine, 2001). Diminishing state, federal, and foundation funding also hurt many private nonprofit colleges (Gumport, 1997; Hodges, 2002; Richman, 2003; and, Van Der Werf, 2002). Despite the environment, college founders established over two hundred new colleges between 1977 and 2002, of which roughly two-dozen were private nonprofit colleges--what I term, neophyte nonprofits . This study's purpose was to understand how an institution's mission is both created and operationalized --the point at which the institution enters the marketplace. I investigated how the neophyte nonprofit founders managed their niche institutions from an idea to the first class of students during a time of consolidation and flat market growth. To assist in this investigation, I drew from Rosabeth Moss Kanter's (1972) work on utopian organizations, since I sought to identify how new market entrants generate social support while building sufficient resources to institutionalize. The neophyte nonprofit founders' challenges resembled those of fledgling utopian groups, and I argue that Kanter's framework is a useful comparison on mission formation and commitment generation. This study also adapts Michael Porter's (1998) competitive strategy model to explore how neophyte nonprofits struggle to overcome existing barriers to the market. Data collection for this inquiry included interviews, published research and articles, and institutional documents. External organization studies and higher education analysts aided triangulation and analysis. Exploring how successful neophyte schools succeeded may help to explain why market entry was so difficult. This study may lend clues about how the higher education industry's terrain can be navigated for future neophyte nonprofits.
|Year of publication:||
|Authors:||Monastero, R. Perry|
|Type of publication:||Other|
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