Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Jay R. Dee

Second Advisor

Monnica Chan

Third Advisor

Nan Langowitz


Practical problems can emerge when new academic programs are developed. If program development decisions are driven primarily by desires for enrollment growth and revenue generation, new programs may be created without clear connections to institutional missions or organizational core competencies. Additionally, introduction of new academic programs may generate internal conflict and competition for resources diminishing the capacity of both new and existing programs. Misalignment with mission, lack of connection to faculty expertise, and fierce internal competition for resources can create an environment where new academic programs are unlikely to thrive. The purpose of this multi-site case study was to understand how business school leaders develop new specialized master's programs in relation to missions, markets, and organizational core competencies. Utilizing interviews with administrators and faculty members as well as document analysis, the study uncovered several findings about the development of specialized master’s programs. First was a clear connection between institutional mission and institutional identity. Study participants believed that closely linking the new program to institutional mission and identity would differentiate it from similar programs at competitor institutions. Second, regarding markets, study participants attempted to build upon existing institutional strengths as they developed the program and sought a niche in the market. However, all agreed that the search for a viable market niche should not overshadow the importance of maintaining their institution’s core identity. Third, each institution’s program development progress drew upon faculty knowledge and skills (organizational core competencies) as well as the faculty’s ability and willingness to collaborate across departmental boundaries. Reliance on organizational core competencies, however, was also associated with administrative decisions to implement the new programs using primarily existing resources. Study participants noted that neither new faculty lines nor sufficient support for marketing and recruitment had been provided. The study findings suggest that consideration of mission and institutional identity can serve to place boundaries on business schools’ pursuit of enrollment markets. A second implication is that the introduction of a new master’s program can serve as a catalyst for organizational learning and change within a business school.


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