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Competition Among University Endowments

  • William N. Goetzmann
  • Sharon Oster

The asset allocation of university endowments has recently shifted dramatically towards alternative investments. In this paper we examine the role played by strategic competition in motivating this shift. Using a metric capturing competition for undergraduate applications, we test whether endowment performance relative to a school's nearest competitor is associated with the likelihood of changing investment policy, and conditionally, whether the nature of that change is consistent with the goal of "catching up" to its closest rival. Conditional on indicating a policy change, we find that endowments appear to use marketable alternatives - i.e. hedge funds - to catch up to competitors. More generally, we find evidence that endowments with below median holdings of alternative investments tend to shift policies in that direction. Besides herding behavior we also find trend-chasing behavior. Endowments with recent positive experience with various alternative asset classes tend to increase exposure to them. We consider the long-run implications of this competitive and trending behavior for the ability of endowments to deliver intergenerational equity.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18173.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Publication status: published as Competition Among University Endowments , William N. Goetzmann, Sharon Oster. in How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education , Brown and Hoxby. 2015
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18173
Note: AP
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  1. William N. Goetzmann & Stephen J. Brown, 2005. "Performance Persistence," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm451, Yale School of Management.
  2. Dennis Epple & Elizabeth Newlon & Richard Romano, 2000. "Ability Tracking, School Competition, and the Distribution of Educational Benefits," NBER Working Papers 7854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 207-22, Summer.
  4. Mary A. Burke & Tim R. Sass, 2006. "Classroom Peer Effects and Student Achievement," Working Papers wp2006_02_02, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
  5. Gurdip S. Bakshi & Zhiwu Chen, 1996. "The Spirit of Capitalism and Stock-Market Prices," CEMA Working Papers 511, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  6. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Holger Sieg, . "Admission, Tuition, and Financial Aid Policies in the Market for Higher Education," GSIA Working Papers 2003-04, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  7. Christopher N. Avery & Mark E. Glickman & Caroline M. Hoxby & Andrew Metrick, 2013. "A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 425-467.
  8. Chevalier, Judith & Ellison, Glenn, 1997. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1167-1200, December.
  9. Erik R. Sirri & Peter Tufano, 1998. "Costly Search and Mutual Fund Flows," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1589-1622, October.
  10. Hansmann, Henry, 1990. "Why Do Universities Have Endowments?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 3-42, January.
  11. Litvack, James M & Malkiel, Burton G & Quandt, Richard E, 1974. "A Plan for the Definition of Endowment Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 433-37, May.
  12. Ren´┐Ż M. Stulz, 2007. "Hedge Funds: Past, Present, and Future," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 175-194, Spring.
  13. Brown, Stephen J & Goetzmann, William N & Ibbotson, Roger G, 1999. "Offshore Hedge Funds: Survival and Performance, 1989-95," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72(1), pages 91-117, January.
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