Systematic shifts in scaling behavior based on organizational strategy in universities

Complexity Digest

Taylor RC, Liang X, Laubichler MD, West GB, Kempes CP, Dumas M (2021) Systematic shifts in scaling behavior based on organizational strategy in universities. PLoS ONE 16(10): e0254582. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254582

To build better theories of cities, companies, and other social institutions such as universities, requires that we understand the tradeoffs and complementarities that exist between their core functions, and that we understand bounds to their growth. Scaling theory has been a powerful tool for addressing such questions in diverse physical, biological and urban systems, revealing systematic quantitative regularities between size and function. Here we apply scaling theory to the social sciences, taking a synoptic view of an entire class of institutions. The United States higher education system serves as an ideal case study, since it includes over 5,800 institutions with shared broad objectives, but ranges in strategy from vocational training to the production of novel research, contains public, nonprofit and for-profit…

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