Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Susanne D. Hartl


Business Model Innovation, Academic Capitalism, HBCUs


Business | Education


The higher education industry is presently faced with global forces necessitating the need for continuous business model innovation and ingenuity. Unfortunately, this is one area where higher education institutions (HEIs) have traditionally lacked focus, though transformations in educational value, delivery, and cost have compelled them to rethink their innovation strategies. The rapid pace of change in higher education has not been able to fully permeate the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) community. The primary motivations of HBCUs continue to be ensuring access and affordability to American descendants of slavery (ADOS) and the larger Black community; because of these motivations, HBCUs business models are not amenable to a broad range of innovation. The researcher used a qualitative case study methodology to explore this phenomenon. The purpose of this research was to determine why HBCUs lack innovation, to explore how HBCUs can overcome these challenges, and to show how HBCUs can gain a competitive advantage in the higher education industry. The study’s findings determined that strategies of academic capitalism and limited educational bureaucracy stimulate business innovation at HEIs. The findings of this study suggest that innovation must be at the core of the institution’s mission and facilitated through the strategic plan with stakeholder buy-in. Most HBCUs have failed to innovate, primarily because of their bureaucratic rigidity, and their overall reluctance to change—often because the financial barriers and challenges to innovation prevent them from doing so. By embracing academic capitalism, technological developments, and refining administrative structures, HBCUs can market themselves to a different demographic of students and gain a competitive advantage in the education market.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 21, 2032