Assessing the Regional Economic Development Impacts of Universities: A Review of Current Approaches
Research universities in the United States have increasingly become involved in economic development since the mid-1980s. There has been a corresponding growth of interest in measuring the impacts of higher education on regional economies. This article reviews the approaches used to examine the influence of research universities on regional economic development outcomes. Considerable attention is paid to the methodological advantages and shortcomings of four major research designs evidenced in the literature: single-university impact studies, surveys, knowledge production functions, and cross-sectional and quasiexperimental designs. University activities, particularly knowledge-based activities such as teaching and basic research, have been found to have substantial positive effects on a variety of measures of regional economic progress.
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