Pomp and circumstance: University presidents and the role of human capital in determining who leads U.S. research institutions
While there is wide agreement that leaders matter, little is known regarding the role that human capital plays in determining who becomes one. We exploit unique attributes of the higher education industry to examine if training and academic ability affect the placement of university presidents within the research hierarchy of U.S. institutions. The analysis uses two data sets drawn from the American College President Survey conducted over three decades and a digitized sample of 212 curriculum vitae for presidents at top U.S. universities in 2009, to model the factors that determine who among the pool of university presidents places at Carnegie-classified research institutions. The findings suggest the rise to the presidency of a research institution depends on the investments in research-specific human capital over the entire course of a career consistent with prior evidence that the knowledge of the research enterprise is critical to the success of such institutions.
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