Public-private partnerships represent a fast-growing trend in US higher education. For-profit companies seek to partner with institutions of higher learning, which often find these types of relationships beneficial in helping to supply much needed funding and resources to invest in programs they are trying to launch and/or support. Unfortunately, private-public partnerships tend to fail as often as they succeed.
Negar Farakish, EdD, clinical assistant professor and executive director of academic affairs at the NYU SPS Division of Programs in Business, together with Shanna Jaggars, assistant vice provost at The Ohio State University, and Maggie Fay, research associate at Columbia University, developed a case study, “Public-Private Partnership: How and Why Six Community Colleges Loved and Left a For-Profit Partner.” They recently published their insights from the study in the refereed scholarly journal, Innovative Higher Education, examining the development and dissolution of the partnership between a private company, Quad Learning (QL), and six community colleges to establish honors programs.
Farakish and her colleagues analyzed the partnership development process, including the context and motivation for the QL partnership, and examined the failure of the process and how the outcomes, context, and framing shifted across time.
The study suggested potential lessons for institutions that are interested in establishing such partnerships, including the need to conduct a strategic review, to determine whether the potential partnership is the most promising option for meeting the strategic goals of an institution, and to create a comprehensive plan for campus stakeholder engagement and management. The researchers posited that administrators should assess the expected costs and benefits, and establish processes for reviewing the partnerships as they evolve over time.