Growing the Pie? The Effect of Responsibility Center Management on Tuition Revenue

Ozan Jaquette, Dennis A. Kramer, Bradley R. Curs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Responsibility center management (RCM) budgeting systems devolve budget responsibility while creating funding formulas that provide incentives for academic units to generate revenues and decrease costs. A growing number of public universities have adopted RCM. The desire to grow tuition revenue has often been cited as a rationale for adoption. Previous research has not assessed the effect of RCM on institution-level tuition revenue. Traditional regression methods that calculate “average treatment effects” are inappropriate because RCM policies differ across universities. This study employed a synthetic control method (SCM) approach. The SCM approximates the counterfactual for an RCM adopter by creating a synthetic control institution composed of a weighted average of nonadopters. The SCM estimates the effect of RCM separately for each adopter rather than estimating the average effect across multiple adopters. We used SCM to analyze the effect of RCM adoption on tuition revenue at 4 public research universities that adopted RCM during 2008 to 2010. We found a positive relationship between RCM and tuition revenue at Iowa State University, Kent State University, and the University of Cincinnati. The magnitude of this relationship was moderately large relative to placebo adopters. We found no relationship between RCM and tuition revenue at the University of Florida.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-676
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Higher Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Budgeting
  • decentralization
  • finance
  • institutional policy
  • new public management
  • performance funding
  • public universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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