Education: Following a Market Focus – Nu Leadership Series

“ Every failure is a blessing in disguise, providing it teaches some needed lesson one could not have learned without it. Most so-called Failures are only temporary defeats.”

Napoleon Hill

Should today’s colleges and universities be market-focused? Clearly, businesses adhere to marketing forces. Sadly, many higher education leaders try to avoid market trends and do nothing. Some argue this problem is directly related to the academic structure at most universities. Many organizational changes in universities are conducted from a “top-down” manner. Nadler and Tushman, author of Competing by Design, explain that a top-down approach focuses primarily on the strategic level but is blind to operational problems in organizations. This reality may leave universities more vulnerable to human error. Therefore, market opportunities may be missed.

For example, major universities love to embrace traditional students; however, the current undergraduate make-up consists of 73% nontraditional students. The demographic changes of more women, minorities, and low income students have created social pressure on traditional institutions. Traditionally, schools of higher learning have acted as major liberators in society. Examining the role of education in America, Hughes argues that an education dramatically expands the opportunities for young people. It can open a window to a wider world. As a result of sending students overseas to study, America is building its global competency. This has created a need for more global education. The market requires more attention by academia. According to Lyon, Kysilka, and Pawlas, authors of The Adjunct Professor’s Guide to Success, students want more than the traditional academic institution is willing to give. Can today’s academic leaders continue to ignore these market realities? Unfortunately, institutions that ignore emerging trends may be left behind.


Berg, G. (2005). Lessons from the Edges. San Francisco: American Council on Education Praeger.

Hughes, K. (2006). Remarks to American Council on Education: A Strategic view of Study Abroad. Leadership Network for International Education, Washington, DC.

Lyon, R., Kysilka, M. & Pawlas, G. (1999). The Adjunct Professor’s Guide to Success: Surviving and Thriving in the College Classroom. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Nadler, D. & Tushman, M. (1997). Competing by Design. New York: Oxford University Press.

© 2008 by Daryl D. Green