Higher education industrial uniqueness features.
Public and private sectoral differences
are also evident in higher education, but the differences are mitigated by certain requirements
common to all sectoral higher education institutions. Before discussing this mitigating factor, key
differentiating factors warrant discussion. First, the same issue with regard the financial accounting
differences for public and private institutions exists at the higher education level of the education
industry (Cottrell & Baker, 2013). Additionally, the need for for-profit organizations to earn a
profit and to enhance shareholder value is a primary sectoral differentiator. Given this pressure to
turn a profit, only a few publically-traded education institutions still exist (Smith, 2016).
Notwithstanding the sectoral differentiators, higher education institutions are considered to be
interdependent organizations in that they are influenced heavily by external organizations such as
accrediting agencies. Such agencies seek to ensure the quality of institutions, but they tend to
make them more standardized and to emphasize what they feel is necessary for an institution
(ASHE-Eric, 2001). Regardless of the sectoral orientation of institutions of higher education,
accreditation affects education leaders’ and other stakeholder’s ability to strategically change to
meet the dynamic nature of the environment. Although organizations other than higher education
institutions do not have the constraints that come with meeting accreditation standards, other
sectoral realities serve as constraints, some of which are discussed in the pages that follow as the
black box is opened to discuss the inner workings of a sectoral enterprise that impact strategy.