, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 563-585,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 09 Aug 2010

Who are the early adopters of new academic fields? Comparing four perspectives on the institutionalization of degree granting programs in US four-year colleges and Universities, 1970–2005


This paper investigates the characteristics of US colleges and universities that were early adopters of post-1970 academic growth fields. It examines hypotheses drawn from four analytical perspectives on sources of organizational change: organizational ecology, inter-institutional stratification, demographic composition, and historical traditions. Focusing on 20 “newly established” and “emerging” growth fields, we find strong support for density-dependence and organizational size as influences on early adoption for all fields, as well as support for institutional status variables as influences on the early adoption of new liberal arts and basic sciences fields.