Research in Higher Education

, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 411–441 | Cite as

Global Competition, US Research Universities, and International Doctoral Education: Growth and Consolidation of an Organizational Field



The heightened mobility of resources, ideas, and cultural practices across national borders—commonly known as “globalization”—entails changes in the contexts in which US research universities operate. We draw on recent developments in neo-institutional theory to understand these changes and their implications for the ways in which US universities compete for international doctoral students. Quantitative analyses of university-level data from 1990 to 2006 identify significant predictors of growth in this field, including state appropriations and state-supported research expenditures for public universities and net tuition receipts and number of full-time faculty members for private universities. We also highlight the ways in which returns have intensified, declined, or held relatively constant over time.


International doctoral students Competition Research universities Globalization Neo-institutional theory 



This research was supported by a Grant from the American Educational Research Association which receives funds for its “AERA Grants Program” from the National Science Foundation under NSF Grant #DRL-0941014. Opinions reflect those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies. The authors also thank Sondra Barringer for her invaluable assistance with IPEDS data, and Jim Hearn and two anonymous reviewers for their astute comments on the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of North TexasDentonUSA
  2. 2.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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