Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

E. Grady Bogue

Committee Members

Jimmy G. Cheek, Sarah F. Gardial, Matthew B. Myers

Abstract

Business schools are facing an increasingly competitive marketplace driven by the globalization of management education and the many new entrants providing educational and research services within this space. School rankings have become a substitute for independent assessments of quality by constituencies, often driving schools toward isomorphism in bids to climb higher in the rankings. Business school leaders need to fully understand their strategic options as they lead their schools during this challenging time. The purpose of this case study was to explore the pursuit, implementation, and potential performance effects of a type of reconstructionist strategy, Blue Ocean Strategy, within the context of two collegiate business schools. For schools that meet certain criteria, employing a reconstructionist strategy in the pursuit of uncontested markets appears to be a viable approach to the crowded, global market for management education.

Using three strategic moves, two at one US business school and one at a European business school, this study used a case study methodology to explore the use of reconstructionist strategy. A total of 15 semi-structured interviews were conducted with school administration, faculty, and staff along with a review of documentation relevant to these three moves. In concert with findings from previous studies in corporate environments, this study found that schools that were poorly positioned for direct competition with higher ranked and better-funded schools could effectively employ reconstructionist strategies when the school had an organizational orientation toward innovation. Further findings included general support for the six principles of Blue Ocean Strategy in this context although some divergence was found due to differences in academic organizational structures. In effect, these schools were found to foster innovation by individual faculty entrepreneurs although no clear pathway emerged for innovative activities to be incorporated into the overall school strategy or marketing plans. Nevertheless, the three strategic moves studied did bring overall benefit to their schools. Business school leaders and researchers are urged to continue research in this area to further understand how reconstructionist moves may be better integrated into a school’s overall strategy as well as how to use them in a school’s market positioning.

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