Universities and Colleges as Economic Drivers

Measuring Higher Education's Role in Economic Development

Edited by Jason E. Lane & D. Bruce Johnstone
Foreword by Nancy L. Zimpher

Subjects: Higher Education, Education Policy And Leadership, Public Policy
Series: SUNY series, Critical Issues in Higher Education
Paperback : 9781438445007, 338 pages, November 2012
Hardcover : 9781438445014, 338 pages, November 2012

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Table of contents


Foreword by Nancy L. Zimpher


1. Higher Education and Economic Competitiveness
Jason E. Lane

2. The Diversity of University Economic Development Activities and Issues of Impact Measurement
Thomas Gais and David Wright

3. Pitfalls of Traditional Measures of Higher Education’s role in Economic Development
Peter McHenry, Allen R. Sanderson, and John J. Siegfried

4. On the Measurement of University Research Contributions to Economic Growth and Innovation
Maryann P. Feldman, Allan M. Freyer, and Lauren Lanahan

5. University Industry Government Collaboration for Economic Growth
Laura I. Schultz

6. The Convergence of Postsecondary Education and the Labor Market
Anthony P. Carnevale and Stephen J. Rose

7. The Essential Role of Community Colleges in Rebuilding the Nation’s Communities and Economies
James Jacobs

8. The International Dimensions of Higher Education’s Contributions to Economic Development
Jason E. Lane and Taya L. Owens

9. Unanticipated Consequences of University Intellectual Property Policies
Jason Owen‑Smith

10. The Impact of the 2008 Great Recession on College and University Contributions to State and Regional Economic Growth
D. Bruce Johnstone


A comprehensive examination of the relationship between higher education, state government, and economic development.


Local, state, and national economies are facing unprecedented levels of international competition. The current fiscal crisis has hampered the ability of many governments in the developed world to directly facilitate economic growth. At the same time, many governments in the developing world are investing significant new resources into local infrastructure and industry development initiatives. At the heart of the current economic transformation lie our colleges and universities. Through their roles in education, innovation, knowledge transfer, and community engagement, these institutions are working toward spurring economic growth and prosperity.

This book brings together leading scholars from a variety of disciplines to assess how universities and colleges exert impact on economic growth. The contributors consider various methodologies, metrics, and data sources that may be used to gauge the performance of diverse higher education institutions in improving economic outcomes in the United States and around the world. Also presented are new typologies of economic development activities and related state policies that are designed to improve understanding of such initiatives and generate new energy and focus for an international community of scholars and practitioners working to formulate new models for how public universities and colleges may lead economic development in their states and communities while still performing their traditional educational functions.

Universities and Colleges as Economic Drivers is meant to cultivate greater understanding among elected officials, business representatives, policymakers, and other concerned parties about the central roles universities and colleges play in national, state, and local economies.

Jason E. Lane is Director of Education Studies and Senior Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and Associate Professor of Educational Administration and Policy Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York. D. Bruce Johnstone is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Higher and Comparative Education at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, and former Chancellor of the State University of New York.


"…this edited volume is a strong contribution to the literature on the role of universities in economic development. " — Economic Development Quarterly