Administrative Issues Journal


Louella Moore


Public colleges and universities today are more than institutions of academic study. They play a role in the economic and social life of their communities by engaging in partnerships aimed at enhancing their scope and brand image. This paper suggests these partnered activities do more than just manage costs and replace state support during economic downturns; the activities are also central to managing the image and political scope of the institution. This paper presents an exploratory, multi-disciplinary examination of the market forces and potential moral hazards inherent in hybrid public/private partnerships in higher education. Agency and symbolic interaction concepts are used to explain the uses of private/public partnerships to achieve both symbolic and functional ends. The theoretical constructs are applied to three recent cases—a foodservice arrangement at University of Central Arkansas, an online course platform contract at Arkansas State University, and the Pennsylvania State/Sandusky/Paterno situation.



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