Toward a strategic view of higher education social responsibilities: A dynamic capabilities approach

Christopher S. Hayter, Daniel R. Cahoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The social responsibilities of higher education serve as the foundation for its existence. Within an increasingly global context, society expects colleges and universities to undertake new and increasingly complex social responsibilities that expand traditional higher education missions while emphasizing new obligations such as economic development and sustainability. Higher education institutions have responded by adding new programs and services—such as new degree programs, equity and inclusion offices, and training for older workers—and aggressively pursuing new sources of revenue in support of their missions. Despite these considerable efforts, there is a growing sense that higher education is not adequately fulfilling its social responsibilities. We contend that these trends do not stem from intransigence, but are instead symptomatic of the need for strategic management frameworks tailored to the unique social responsibilities and impacts of higher education. To this end, we introduce a strategic social responsibility framework based on the emergent concept of dynamic capabilities. Strategic social responsibility emphasizes the establishment and continuing renewal of an orchestration infrastructure that enables colleges and universities to maximize their social impact through the alignment of strategy and resources. Implications for future scholarship and policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-34
Number of pages23
JournalStrategic Organization
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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