Institutional portfolio management : a model of integrated planning
Milkovich, Anne Klees Zulick
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The pilot study and manuscripts presented in this dissertation introduce institutional portfolio management as a model of integrated planning to address institutional performance improvement. Higher education is under pressure to demonstrate and improve institutional performance in terms of access, cost, and throughput. Few models exist to guide leaders in implementing transformative change that will address the problem. Program prioritization is a means to do so yet it is usually implemented as a one-time solution and not without controversy. A parallel model of portfolio management is used in private industry as an ongoing and rational practice of organizational strategy. The parallels of the two disciplines have not previously been noted in extant literature. Through my collected body of doctoral work, I provide empirical data on the processes and outcomes of program prioritization. I establish structural contingency theory as a central paradigm explaining the cycle of mission fragmentation and program prioritization in higher education. I evaluate the practices of program prioritization and illustrate the parallel with its industry cousin portfolio management. I introduce institutional portfolio management as a model of integrated planning based on the best practices of both disciplines. A pilot study published as a conference proceeding finds common themes from interviews of institutional leaders who have undertaken program prioritization. The themes revealed a relationship between strategic approach and successful outcomes. They also provided support for the practice of inclusivity and transparency in the process as important keys to successful outcomes. The first article searches for correlation between institutional characteristics and the tendency toward program prioritization. The study finds that large doctoral and land-grant institutions are more inclined toward program prioritization than those with more focused missions, such as private liberal arts institutions. The second article establishes structural contingency theory as a central paradigm that explains the cycle of mission fragmentation and program prioritization, inductively reasoned from the history of higher education. It also explains why the needed transformational change is hindered by administrative success and how a model of integrated planning can overcome that impediment. The third article elaborates the practical elements of the framework so that practitioners can deploy it.