Faculty Publications

The Competition of an American Public Good: Performance-Based Funding and Other Neoliberal Tertiary Effects in Higher Education

Document Type

Book Chapter

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Leadership Strategies for Promoting Social Responsibility in Higher Education



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This chapter quotes how St. John, Daun-Barnett, and Moronski-Chapman (2012) maintained ideological shifts in American culture and politics which are important to the study of higher education policy because of the influence on public finance, government regulation, and curriculum. From the Great Depression through the Cold War to the present, human capital theory has guided higher education (St. John et al., 2012). Veiled concepts of accessibility and equity were substantial during this era to mask more nefarious attempts to shift to the privatization away from the public good of American Higher Education (Astin & Oseguera, 2004). This chapter focuses on the role of accountability as a neoliberal ideology, and the impact of this ideology, as a form of corporatization on higher education. Furthermore, this focus on corporatization intersects specifically with the discourse pertaining to corporate social responsibility (CSR), which can be understood as transparent actions that guide an organization to benefit society, such as in funding and accessibility. In this chapter, the authors engage in a critical analysis of neoliberalism, and academic capitalism, as threats to the institution of higher education as a public good. The authors initially provide a framing of the public to private dichotomy of American higher education in explaining the various products produced and expected outcomes. A historical context for performance-based funding in American higher education is provided as an understanding of the nature and scope of the contemporary model. To understand the influence of public funding policies on American higher education, it is also necessary to comprehend the role of political ideology and how the business model of higher education has evolved. Thus, a general discussion of neoliberalism permeates the entirety of this discussion. This chapter concludes with the tertiary impacts of neoliberalism.


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies

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