University Rankings: Evidence and a Conceptual Framework

Jacob Fowles, H. George Frederickson, Jonathan Koppell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


University ranking has high public visibility, the ranking business has flourished, and institutions of higher education have not been able to ignore it. This study of university ranking presents general considerations of ranking and institutional responses to it, particularly considering reactions to ranking, ranking as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and ranking as a means of transforming qualities into quantities. The authors present a conceptual framework of university ranking based on three propositions and carry out a descriptive statistical analysis of U.S. and international ranking data to evaluate those propositions. The first proposition of university ranking is that ranking systems are demarcated by a high degree of stability, equilibrium, and path dependence. The second proposition links ranking to institutional identity. The third proposition posits that rankings function as a catalyst for institutional isomorphism. The conclusion reviews some important new developments in university ranking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)790-803
Number of pages14
JournalPublic administration review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'University Rankings: Evidence and a Conceptual Framework'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this