The Limits of Institutional Measures for Assessing State, Regional and National Postsecondary Productivity
Policymakers should be at least as interested in analyzing productivity in terms of student characteristics and geography as they are in the productivity of institutions relative to one another and over time.
Gauging academic productivity for public policy purposes requires a framework different from that used for institutional or departmental analyses, since system-wide productivity trends can differ from what any one institution within that system is experiencing. This paper lays out an approach for defining and assessing productivity within and among postsecondary institutions. The author makes a data-driven case that while typical measures of productivity may be useful for institution management, they can yield misleading results when generalized to larger regions, states or the nation.
This paper is one of five in the TIAA Institute Higher Education Series: Understanding Academic Productivity. The TIAA Institute undertook this initiative in support of the National Association of College and University Business Officers’ Economic Models Project, which aims to provide colleges and universities with knowledge, ideas and tools to advance the difficult structural, cultural and political changes required for moving to more sustainable economic models.