Date of Award

Winter 1995

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Management

Committee Director

Roger S. Sims

Committee Member

Brian K. Boyd

Committee Member

Berhanu Mengistu


This study is an original application of resource dependence theory to research administration at public universities. It examines the extent to which and under what conditions economic development orientations can be predicted by resource dependence theory. Data analyses concentrate on the combined effects of administrative structure and variations in federal financial support on the economic development orientations of public doctorate-granting universities nationwide.

Data were collected from three sources: (a) published data on the research dollar volume of public universities; (b) higher education personnel directories containing information about research offices; and (c) a mailed survey instrument containing four orientations in economic development. Of 96 universities contacted, usable responses to the survey instrument were received from 80 senior research administrators. A response rate of 83.3 percent was achieved.

Statistical analysis of data from the particular survey instrument employed suggest that resource dependence theory may have limited applicability to the organization and management of research offices at public universities. In addition, the study has three implications for university administrators, policy makers, and management scholars: (a) it demonstrates the feasibility of applying the constructs of resource dependence theory to higher education research administration; (b) it provides new information in the continuing discussion over administrative structure of university research offices; and (c) it suggests that university research administrators attempt to find new sources of funding and reduce their institution's reliance on the federal government.

The study concludes that a standardized rate of growth in federal research funding, in part, influences, two orientations of public doctorate-granting universities in economic development: (a) New Business and Technology Development and (b) Capacity Building. On the average, these universities employ strategies more frequently as they encounter adverse policy environments. In closing, this study suggests several avenues for further investigation, including research that ascertains the predictive accuracy of formulae developed herein.