Book by Pusser, B., ed
Review by Shannon Lynn Burton, M.A.
Academic Advising Specialist
School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University

Close examination shows that higher education today is viewed as a private good, i.e., education benefits the individual.  Altbach (2002) notes that people once felt that education brought benefits to society as a whole; thus it was thought that government should fund the greater part of the bill for public higher education. This view shifted in the 1970s as conservative economists asserted that since individuals profit from higher education, individuals and their families should pay the majority of the costs for higher education. Altbach continues, “This ideological shift, combined with growing pressures on public budgets, led to a dramatic change in thinking about public higher education.  Most states have been slowly shifting the cost of public higher education from tax revenues to tuition paid by students.” Arenas of Entrepreneurship: Where Nonprofit and For-Profit Institutions Compete builds upon this notion that tuition costs are increasingly born by students as it examines other ways in which institutions have been forced to finance their operating expenses without the use of public funds.

This text consists of a series of chapters that focus on the cultural effects of this move toward privatization on goals and practices within higher education.  The text begins with a discussion of the political and economic pressures that have affected various sectors within higher education including how these pressures relate to the community college. The role of continuing education programs and summer sessions within nonprofit institutions are explored and related to similar entrepreneurial activities at for-profit institutions.  Authors discuss how these new entrepreneurial programs affect and serve nontraditional learners and include suggestions for how faculty and academic staff may better work with these students. The text then refocuses on the bigger picture as authors offer profiles of sample for-profit institutions and examines how they compete with nonprofits.  Finally, authors consider the impact of the traditional mission of the public good within higher education.  

This work expertly details the realities of organizational culture on the new institutional landscape in which advisors must operate.  The organizational structure of the text lends itself to an easy understanding from both macro and micro viewpoints before focusing on the overall macro-view and the implications for higher education. By far the best part of this book is its highlights of history and the various aspects of entrepreneurial activity at institutions of higher education.  The text provides the reader with a thorough understanding of nontraditional students and the means through which they arrive in our offices.  The examples and data presented in this book have the potential to stimulate discussion and research on the experiences of nontraditional students in relation to the entrepreneurial activities of the institution.  

I highly recommend this book to individuals working at institutions facing the challenges of entrepreneurial education. This volume offers a historical overview of the issues and succinctly provides an explanation of the ideological shift from education as a public good to that of education as a private benefit.


Altbach, P. G. (2002, Spring). Who is paying for higher education, and why? International Higher Education, 27. Retrieved September 7, 2003, from  

Arenas of Entrepreneurship:  Where Nonprofit and For-Profit Institutions Compete (New Directions for Higher Education, No. 29). (2005).  Book by Pusser, B., ed. Review by Shannon Lynn Burton. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 106 pp., $29.00.  ISBN # 0-7879-8052-8
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