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The Insider's Guide to Working with UniversitiesPractical Insights for Board Members, Businesspeople, Entrepreneurs, Philanthropists, Alumni, Parents, and Administrators$
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James W. Dean and Deborah Y. Clarke

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653419

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653419.001.0001

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How Are Businesses and Universities Different? How Are They Similar?

How Are Businesses and Universities Different? How Are They Similar?

(p.12) 1 How Are Businesses and Universities Different? How Are They Similar?
The Insider's Guide to Working with Universities

James W. Dean Jr.

Deborah Y. Clarke

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the most important similarities and differences between business and higher education and explores ways in which businesspeople can effectively bring their knowledge and expertise to bear in improving academic institutions. Universities are fundamentally different organizations than businesses. Not only is there a vast divergence in mission (profit vs. reputation), there are also inherent differences in perspectives, particularly in terms of time and urgency. Business is known for its focus on immediacy. And although many aspects of a university’s operations may be time sensitive (such as turning in grades), measures of its reputation, such as the quality of students in the incoming class or the level of research funding received, are often only calculated and reported annually. In the book we provide a lens through which to consider this gap in perspective: the rates of organizational failure in the two sectors. Business failure is routine, while university failure is fairly unusual. The book cites research (Hendrickson et al., 2004) that points out, “None of the original 30 industries listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1928 are on the list today, and many no longer exist at all, yet all 30 of the top universities in the country in 1928 still exist, and most of them would still be considered among the best.” One may argue that this is an apples to oranges comparison, but that’s exactly the point.

Keywords:   Rankings, Reputation, Profit and loss, Mission, values and goals, Chain of command, Sense of urgency, War for talent, Professional service firms, Affiliation and loyalty

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