Traditional postsecondary institutions in North America have a long history. They have built themselves to be the centres of advanced education, innovation, and research. Yet, the world has changed since their foundation. For instance, changes in economies, markets, technology, government support, student demands, and competition are increasing pressures on institutions, with many traditional universities and colleges questioning how to respond. Additionally, an emerging competitor is for-profit higher education institutions, who seem to be addressing pressures and changes with unique methods of operation and education delivery. Distance education appears to be one solution to answer demands facing traditional and for-profit higher education institutions, such as increasing revenue and addressing student needs for lifelong learning. The question becomes should traditional institutions mimic the for-profit model in delivering education ? Will this help them to compete, meet market demands, and secure more funds? More specifically, should traditional universities and colleges restructure distance programs with a for-profit model to meet demands in ways that are more efficient, responsive, current, and profitable.
To answer these questions, this paper looks at the viability of using a for-profit model in traditional postsecondary institutions while drawing on organizational theory and the context of distance education. Borrowing a for-profit model from the business world to consider how it fits within traditional postsecondary settings will create a discussion about the convergence of distinct structures and cultures. Extensively using current literature to examine the notion of such a convergence opens a discussion on the purpose, and academic and economic models of traditional and for-profit postsecondary institutions, the potential gains and losses of converging models, and implication for educational leaders. A balanced approach of sustaining values and purpose, while integrating sound business principles, is discussed.
|Keywords:||Organizational Change, For-profit Models, Converging Models, Distance Education, Leadership Implications|
Doctoral Candidate, Graduate Division of Educational Research, Educational Technology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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