Document Type


Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

Public Administration Review


University ranking has high public visibility, the ranking business has flourished, and institutions of higher education have not been able to ignore it. This study of university ranking presents general considerations of ranking and institutional responses to it, particularly considering reactions to ranking, ranking as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and ranking as a means of transforming qualities into quantities. The authors present a conceptual framework of university ranking based on three propositions and carry out a descriptive statistical analysis of U.S. and international ranking data to evaluate those propositions. The first proposition of university ranking is that ranking systems are demarcated by a high degree of stability, equilibrium, and path dependence. The second proposition links ranking to institutional identity. The third proposition posits that rankings function as a catalyst for institutional isomorphism. The conclusion reviews some important new developments in university ranking.


Published Citation

Fowles, Jacob, H. George Frederickson, and Jonathan GS Koppell. "University rankings: Evidence and a conceptual framework." Public Administration Review 76, no. 5 (2016): 790-803. Harvard