Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Lars G. Björk


The decline in funding allocations to state-supported institutions of higher education (IHEs) in Kentucky has compelled these universities to secure alternate forms of funding to support their capacity to meet public expectations. These other funding streams include increasing enrollment numbers, securing philanthropic support, and acquiring sponsored funding for research projects and programs. While smaller statesupported IHEs face resource and credibility challenges in their pursuit to expand external funding activity, these Emerging Research Institutions (ERIs) continue to strategically bolster their respective research enterprises amid shrinking budgets and increased competition for external funds. Research administration offices are the institutional units responsible for facilitating and supporting the pursuit of sponsored research and are integral to the research missions of these ERIs as an essential structure that enhances the capacity to secure externally sponsored funding. This study explores how external and internal environmental changes influenced adaptive responses, including reconfiguring institutional policies, modifying the role of research administrators, and restructuring offices of sponsored programs to increase the amount of ERI federal research productivity and procurement.

This research employs qualitative methods to gain an understanding of how ERIs adapt to a decline in state appropriations and reconfigure organizational structures and roles to facilitate adaptation. The chief research officer (CRO) and staff of sponsored programs offices (SPOs) at three purposefully selected state-supported ERIs in Kentucky were given pre-surveys and interviewed. Next numerous documents related to each site’s research enterprise were collected and analyzed to understand how sponsored program offices are structured, how duties are officially codified and delineated, and what policies are in place to govern research activity.

Key findings in the study support the importance of upper-administrative knowledge building and leadership in expanding the ERI research enterprise. Additionally, strategic resource allocation, organizational restructuring, a strong policy base and a focus on research development activities are critical elements in bolstering competitive external funding procurement.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)