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Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban Development


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While non-U.S. scholars and academic disciplines other than higher education have given great consideration to the relationships among universities, cities, and economic development, research in the U.S. often fails to consider the potential and significance of higher education for fostering city development. In this chapter, we review the concept of anchor institutions and discuss its potential in terms of understanding the relationship between universities and cities. Anchor institutions serve an integral role in the local culture, providing employment, purchasing power, and real estate stability. These institutions are well-suited to engage with local stakeholders to foster activities of shared value. We examine the influence of anchor institutions related to knowledge networks, economic competitiveness, and economic geography. The conclusion offers methodological insights and future research questions for higher education scholars interested in advancing work in this area.
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393© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
M.B. Paulsen (ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research,
Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research 31,
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-26829-3_8
Chapter 8
Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic
and Social Potential for Urban Development
Michael Harris and Karri Holley
8.1 Introduction
Throughout their history, higher education institutions have frequently been associ-
ated with cities that often dominate the economic, social, and political life of coun-
tries (Bender, 1988 ). While many researchers have examined specifi c effects of
universities on economic growth, we lack a comprehensive understanding of the
numerous ways higher education institutions may impact the economic and social
development of cities. With population changes and resulting rising urbanicity in
the U.S. (Clifton, 2011 ), the relationship between city-regions and higher education
institutions presents a valuable opportunity for higher education researchers.
Despite much work in other disciplines and internationally (Benneworth & Arbo,
2006 ; Caloghirou, Tsakanikas, & Vonortas, 2001 ; Paul Chatterton, 1999 ; Pinheiro,
Benneworth, & Jones, 2012 ), research regarding U.S. higher education fails to suf-
ciently address the potential and importance of higher education for fostering city
This chapter provides a review of the literature related to higher education’s role
in cities. Despite the arguments touting the benefi ts of higher education for cities,
we argue that gaps exist in our knowledge because the research fails to consider the
comprehensive impact of universities economically and socially. Specifi cally, much
The authors would like to thank Molly Ellis for her valuable research assistance with this chapter.
M. Harris (*)
Southern Methodist University ,
3101 University Blvd, Ste 345 , Box 750114 , Dallas , TX 75275 , USA
K. Holley
The University of Alabama , Box 870302 , Tuscaloosa , AL 35487 , USA
of the literature focuses on specifi c initiatives or programs at individual institutions
without developing frameworks to broadly understand the effects of the university
on the city. In addition, the current research provides limited evidence or consider-
ation of the non-economic benefi ts of higher education on cities. The absence of
comprehensive conceptual frameworks hinders researchers attempting to defi ne and
delineate the role of higher education as anchor institutions. To begin our discus-
sion, we explain the current environment of cities and describe the role of universi-
ties in improving cities. We fi rst discuss how researchers understand the role of
knowledge networks supporting university-city development including research
parks, innovation districts, and multi-layered cities. We then consider the anchor
institution concept including the potential for city development, social purpose mis-
sion, and partnerships between universities and cities. Next, we examine the balance
of global and local trends as well as the role of developing creativity to encourage
economic competition. We also discuss higher education’s infl uence on economic
geography. The chapter concludes by offering suggestions for methodological
approaches and research questions related to universities as anchor institutions that
could benefi t future researchers in this area.
8.2 Cities and Higher Education
Cities may possess multiple major universities, academic hospitals, research insti-
tutes, and intricate networks and linkages across sectors. Higher education institu-
tions can play a signifi cant role in the long-term social and economic success of
their surrounding locales. The multifaceted needs of cities and the intricate web of
relationships between cities and institutions increase the pressure on higher educa-
tion institutions to participate as active members of their communities (Taylor &
Luter, 2013 ). Particularly in the context of the knowledge economy, universities
hold tremendous potential for improving the economic and social status of cities.
Modern competitive cities are those that support economic innovation, collabo-
ration with the private sector, a healthy transportation infrastructure, and strong
links between academia and business (McKinsey Global Institute, 2012 ). The
decline of manufacturing industries and the shift towards a high skill knowledge
economy in the latter twentieth century brought attention to how these features can
be developed in cities. This shift requires urban areas to transition their local econo-
mies from a historical focus on industrial production to large-scale knowledge pro-
duction and services.
With the transition to knowledge-based economies, the research literature
assumes the benefi ts to be gained from the close location of particular kinds of
industry, people, and other resources as well as the engagement of anchor institu-
tions (Birch, 2013 ; D. Friedman, Perry, & Menendez, 2013 ; Glaeser & Gottlieb,
2009 ; Serang, Thompson, & Howard, 2010 ). For example, Glaeser and Gottlieb
2009 ) suggest that one reason for the existence of city-regions is the economic
benefi ts that accrue from industrial clusters. The elements of agglomeration
M. Harris and K. Holley
economies , as suggested by Glaeser and Gottlieb , can be measured through various
curves, including labor supply, housing supply, and labor demand. When productiv-
ity rises with the population, issues such as wages and prices are impacted. The
concentration of industries, people, and generally higher incomes suggest the
advantages of a city’s size. Further, Glaeser and Gottlieb argue that people gather in
cities for the advantages of agglomeration economies including the decrease of
costs related to ideas, people, and transportation.
Cities possess unique characteristics that offer people and businesses the poten-
tial for a healthy economic advantage. As one basic example, it can be cheaper to
provide fundamental services (such as water and electricity) to households that exist
within close proximity rather than are spread across a wide geographical area. In
addition, cities possess the advantages of location, a ready market, the opportunity
to integrate with neighboring clusters, and human resources (Porter, 2000 ). A
densely populated city-region makes creating infrastructure for logistics and physi-
cal plants easier due to the availability of resources. Urban economies exhibit highly
complex interactions as a result of their size, scope, scale, and variety of stakehold-
ers within the local environment.
Perhaps refl ecting the idyllic small college town archetype, much of the current
literature on the social and economic benefi ts of higher education focuses on small
towns and rural locations (Beck, Elliott, Meisel, & Wagner, 1995 ; Cantor, Englot, &
Higgins, 2013 ; Fowkes, 1983 ; Moore & Suffrin, 1974 ). Yet urban regions have long
served as hubs of national development (United Nations, 2010 ), and today, the
majority of the world’s population lives in cities. In a 2012 policy report on cities
and the emergent consumer class, the McKinsey Global Institute suggested that the
defi nition of a “city” refl ects an expansive city-region that not only includes the core
city, but also the surrounding metropolitan area that forms a cohesive urban region.
Using this broader defi nition, cities encompass sizeable geographical, economic,
and social areas that feature a wide array of populations and activity.
The importance of cities will likely only grow in future decades. The United
Nations ( 2010 ) estimates that, by 2050, 69 % of the world’s population will be
located in cities, defi ned as urban agglomerations with at least 750,000 inhabitants.
This trend is especially evident in the United States where 80 % of the population
currently resides in cities, a percentage estimated to rise to 90 % by the middle of
the twenty-fi rst century (United Nations). With the migration into cities, questions
pertaining to urban challenges increasingly dominate the U.S. domestic policy as
well as the global policy agenda.
8.3 Higher Education’s Role in Improving Cities
The rise of the city as a pivotal hub of the global economy, the concurrent decline of
national governments, and the lack of public funding pushed the university into a
role as a regional economic booster (Ohmae,
1995 ; Russo, van den Berg, & Lavanga,
2007 ). Universities offer access to knowledge networks, deliver knowledge to
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
students and workers, and improve local business environments (Benneworth &
Arbo, 2006 ; Chatterton & Goddard, 2000 ; Clark, 1998 ). In a case study of the
University of Twente’s role in supporting a formerly industrial economy, Benneworth
and Hospers ( 2007 ) document how a university can create enthusiasm that supports
the development of regional innovation. The University of Twente provided direct
support for regional initiatives built on the institution’s teaching, research, and ser-
vice activities that then spread to involve other local actors. Ultimately, the univer-
sity developed a regional mission and networks that built capacity for innovation
and economic growth (Benneworth & Hospers). While this research demonstrates
the ability of universities to play a networking role in a particular context, further
scholarship can consider additional contexts and conditions as well as measure the
ability of universities to infl uence long-term city growth.
Huggins and Johnston ( 2009 ) conclude that universities are infl uenced by the
competitiveness of the city or region in which they are located. Competitive regions
are those with economies that can attract and maintain fi rms with increasing market
growth while also sustaining a high standard of living for residents. Competitiveness
is defi ned by economic output per capita, employment rates, and density of
knowledge- intensive rms (Huggins & Johnston). Less competitive regions are
institutionally weak, relying heavily on small or medium-sized businesses with a
low growth history (Huggins & Johnston). In competitive regions, universities are
usually highly productive, as measured by the value added by the institution as a
percentage of the total value added across the region.
Higher education institutions in highly competitive regions possess greater
wealth generating capacity than those in less competitive regions. One reason may
be that institutions in more competitive regions have access to other kinds of orga-
nizations involved in facilitating innovation. Higher levels of productivity are not
simply a result of institutional capability, but also of access to ideas, people, and
resources at neighboring organizations. Doutriaux ( 2003 ) submits that higher edu-
cation institutions that co-exist in city-regions with government laboratories and
industry are commonly catalysts of innovation as opposed to drivers. In addition,
Doutriaux documented the presence of a large research university in each of the 11
high-tech knowledge clusters in Canada. Yet, higher education institutions are not
the sole determinants of regional growth and innovation.
8.4 Knowledge Networks Supporting University-City
Higher education institutions contribute to the base of knowledge, ideas, and
resources which are transported between different organizations and considered
necessary reciprocal ingredients for economic benefi t. For instance, the develop-
ment of new technology-based fi rms provides a component of the diverse economy
needed for twenty-fi rst century city-regions (Dahlstrand,
2007 ). This type of
M. Harris and K. Holley
economic growth is most commonly seen in areas with research universities,
knowledge industries, and existing fi rms, suggesting that the advantages to this
development of economic networks with higher education institutions. Research
parks and innovation districts offer large-scale, geographic evidence of the networks
between multiple local and regional partners. By promoting geographic proximity,
these models create knowledge networks to encourage a culture of innovation and
entrepreneurship (Luger & Goldstein, 1991 ).
8.5 Research Parks
University-based research parks are directly situated on a university’s campus. Link
and Scott ( 2007 ) contend that the location helps the park to benefi t from the univer-
sity’s research and knowledge base and also seeks to develop knowledge in concert
with the university and park tenants. Research parks have a lengthy history; the fi rst
research parks were created in the 1950s, and since the 1970s, have been growing at
an exponential rate (Luger & Goldstein, 1991 ). As defi ned by Luger and Goldstein,
research parks are “organizational entities that sell or lease spatially contingent land
and/or buildings to businesses or other organizations whose principal activities are
basic or applied research or the development of new products” (1991, p. 5). This
defi nition excludes such areas as Route 128 in Massachusetts, since there is not an
organizational entity overseeing the corridor. A more encompassing notion of
research parks refl ects not only formally organized spaces for collaboration and
innovation, but also areas where various organizations congregate and interact with
each other without a formal designation. In informal corridors, the university pres-
ence is frequently less prescribed, but can be seen through such entities as spin-off
and start-up companies (Bercovitz & Feldman, 2006 ; Link & Scott, 2007 ).
8.6 Innovation Districts
In a 2014 report, the Brookings Institution profi led the growth of “ innovation dis-
tricts ,” defi ned as geographic areas where anchor institutions and businesses group
around and link with start-ups and business accelerators (Katz & Wagner, 2014 ).
These districts refl ect the characteristics of robust knowledge networks. Innovation
districts are commonly small in physical size, easily accessible by public transporta-
tion, and home to a mix of retail, business, and residential spaces. With a goal
towards open innovation, companies that thrive on new knowledge operate in close
proximity to knowledge-rich organizations such as research universities. Innovation
districts can be found in such urban cities as Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Diego and
are supported by key anchor institutions (Webber & Karlstrom, 2009 ). Several char-
acteristics differentiate innovation districts from research parks including a location
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
in a city’s existing infrastructure with the goal of fostering physical proximity and
the opportunity for residents to live within the district itself. The Brookings
Institution identifi es three models for innovation districts: anchor plus, where
mixed-use development is organized around anchor institutions; re-imagined urban
areas, where existing industrial space is converted and anchor companies consoli-
date; and the urbanized science park, where formerly isolated areas of innovation
are urbanized by adding mixed-use activities. Across the different models, anchor
institutions play a consistent role as a driver of innovation.
8.7 Multi-Layered Cities
The term multi-layered cities has been used in a variety of research contexts includ-
ing explaining a diverse population (S. Thompson, 2000 ) or to describe numerous
layers of government and forms of governance (Jansen-Verbeke & Govers, 2010 ).
Over time, cities undergo various changes, including social, economic, cultural, and
physical, that Egedy, von Streit, and Bontje ( 2013 ) compare to geological layers.
Throughout their histories, the footprint of cities change, the economic fortunes rise
and fall, and the population grows, declines, and changes composition (Musterd &
Murie, 2010 ). Each layer infl uences subsequent layers that form (Egedy et al.,
2013 ). For example, a U.S. city such as Houston possesses a variety of historical,
economic, and cultural traditions, and as such, is able to draw on multifaceted
approaches to contemporary problems. The economic history of Houston includes
its agricultural and maritime origins. The oil industry built upon this infrastructure
in the early twentieth century around the same time that the University of Houston
and Rice University were founded. Now home to the Texas Medical Center, the
world’s largest medical complex, the city-region of Houston is considered one of
the most economically vibrant cities in the United States (Bureau of Labor Statistics,
2015 ). In the fi rst decade of the twenty-fi rst century, the city of Houston increased
the number of college-educated residents by 40 % (Bureau of Labor Statistics), sug-
gesting its appeal to the type of workforce important to a competitive economy. By
contrast, American cities that depend on single-layered economies often experience
challenging transitions as social and economic changes occur. Single-layered econ-
omies are the typical one company town (Egedy et al., 2013 ) such as Rochester,
New York that relied upon Kodak for sustaining the city’s economic growth
(Christopherson, 1999 ). Pre-Katrina New Orleans depended heavily on port opera-
tions and tourism as a base of its regional economy. The city lost nearly 95,000 jobs
and $2.9 billion in wages in the 10 months following Hurricane Katrina; these jobs
disproportionately refl ected the lowest-wage jobs in New Orleans, which caused a
ripple effect of economic consequences across the city (Dolfman, Wasser, &
Bergman, 2007 ).
A crucial ingredient for economic and social success of a city-region in light of
globalization is an educated workforce suited for the region’s industry needs. The
rise of the “skilled city” (Glaeser & Saiz,
2003 ) can in part be attributed to an
M. Harris and K. Holley
economically productive, college-educated workforce, but also from the ability of
such regions to adapt to new industries when existing ones decline. This ability
ensures that cities are continuously re-inventing themselves as new opportunities
and levels of human capital interact. Boston and Detroit, two examples from
Glaeser’s work, exhibited fairly similar economic conditions in the early 1980s. The
different outcomes of the two cities, according to Glaeser , are a result of an abun-
dance of skilled laborers. Boston has a long history of a surplus of higher education
institutions positioning the city to take advantage of the growing skills base of the
population (Glaeser & Saiz). Higher education institutions face changing expecta-
tions to serve traditional aims alongside additional economic and social impera-
tives. As a result, campus leaders not only consider what is best for the institution,
but also the well- being of the community. In many ways, a blurring of what is in the
best interest of the institution and the community occurs.
8.8 Anchor Institutions
Colleges and universities as anchor institutions hold great potential for university-
city networks. One of the early advocates for the interaction between higher educa-
tion institutions and local communities was Jacobs ( 1969 ) , a seminal researcher of
cities, who suggested that the widespread knowledge creation of higher education
generates more local growth than specialized research and development operations
of private companies. More recent work by Glaeser ( 2011 ) reveals how slight
increases in the number of college-educated individuals within a city-region bring
large gains in the per capita gross metropolitan product. Table 8.1 summarizes
research related to higher education’s role in improving cities.
Universities face the challenge of attempting to be innovative and groundbreak-
ing while remaining physically bound to a specifi c location. The growth of interna-
tional branch campuses expands the idea of the satellite campus, and the online
presence of higher education continues to grow. Although these areas of growth
challenge our understanding of anchor institutions, the research literature fails to
fully explore the anchor institution concept in light of current challenges facing
higher education. Universities are place-bound organizations with major ties to their
local communities (Anchor Institution Task Force, 2009 ; Birch, Perry, & Taylor,
2013 ; Cantor et al., 2013 ; Friedman et al., 2013 ; Goddard, Coombes, Kempton, &
Vallance, 2014 ; Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, 2011 ; Serang et al., 2010 ;
Taylor & Luter, 2013 ; The Work Foundation, 2010 ). However, institutions also
increasingly offer online courses which extending their reach beyond their city,
state, or even nation. Despite this increased complexity surrounding the notion of
place, research questions related to physical geography receive little attention in the
higher education literature.
We use the concept of anchor institutions to describe the potential benefi ts of
universities for city-regions. Similar to the role of a large department store provid-
ing an economic anchor within a shopping mall, proponents suggest anchor
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
institutions generate jobs, attract industry, provide cultural opportunities, and work
to improve the condition of a community (Hodges & Dubb, 2012 ; Initiative for a
Competitive Inner City, 2011 ; Taylor & Luter, 2013 ). Goddard et al. ( 2014 )
d e ne anchor institutions as “large, locally embedded institutions, typically
Table 8.1 Summary of key research on higher education’s role in improving cities
design Case or data source Key fi ndings
et al.
1997 )
Technology-intensive research
laboratory employment in 128
United States metro areas
Spatial relationship between
universities & private sector
Candell and
1999 )
Case Massachusetts universities Estimated impact of federal
research funding; startup
rms from publicly funded
research tend to locate in
Englot and
( 2013 )
Case Syracuse University Civil infrastructure creates
lasting social infrastructure
1994b )
Case Johns Hopkins University Innovative infrastructure
necessary for the benefi ts of
1992 )
Cross-sectional Netherlands’ (regions)
investment in manufacturing
University proximity;
unrelated to manufacturing
rm investment
2003 )
Case Sunderland University Output multipliers
and Luger
1992 )
Case Univ. of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill
Impact of student migration
and Renault
2004 )
United States wages by region Universities have a
signifi cant impact on
regional economic
2002 )
Case University of California at
Student migration
1989 )
University R&D expenditures University R&D infl uences
private patenting
Keane and
1999 )
Case University of Sunshine Coast Knowledge production and
infrastructure possibly
outweigh expenditure effects
1994 )
Case Silicon Valley, Route 128 Interorganizational
collaborations help explain
regional performance
M. Harris and K. Holley
non- governmental public sector, cultural or other civic organizations, that are of
signifi cant importance to the economy and the wider community life of cities in
which they are based” (p. 307). In addition to universities, other examples of anchor
institutions include hospitals and museums. As Fulbright-Anderson, Auspos, and
Anderson ( 2001 ) suggest, anchor institutions have a signifi cant investment of
infrastructure in a specifi c place, resulting in relative immobility . In comparison,
for- profi t corporations may move for a variety of reasons, particularly in search for
lower labor costs, relaxed government regulations, or governmental subsidies.
Beyond their physical stability, anchor institutions typically possess a mission
oriented towards community engagement and social service.
Rather than simply driving economic development , anchor institutions also value
and advance the social development of their cities. The Anchor Institution Task
Anchor Institution Task Force ( 2009 ), an on-going coalition comprised of higher
education leaders, notes that colleges and universities as anchor institutions offer
advantages that can be leveraged to support a city’s development. Echoing this call,
The Work Foundation ( 2010 ) contends that, while city development is often not a
primary mission of these institutions, anchor institutions possess local connections
and community relationships as well as the ability to scale resources that can serve
as a valuable foundation for development strategies. Anchor institutions have
numerous avenues for potential city involvement. The Initiative for a Competitive
Inner City, a non-profi t research and strategy group, refl ected on the specifi c roles
that anchor institutions might take to bring economic benefi ts to a city-region,
including real estate developer, purchaser, employer, workforce developer, cluster
anchor, a core service/product provider, and a community infrastructure builder
(Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, 2011 ). Taylor and Luter ( 2013 ) take this
argument further by suggesting that anchor institutions have an important role in
creating more democratic and equitable cities by serving as social-purpose mission
centered, place bound institutions to their surrounding cities.
The anchor institution concept idealizes the belief in the power of place-based
institutions to support social and economic growth. The conceptual power of the
term ‘anchor institutions’ allows for greater insight into the economic geography of
a particular city-region, especially those institutions that provide a foundation for a
community in signifi cant economic and noneconomic ways (Birch et al., 2013 ,
p. 8). However, despite widespread usage and potential value of the anchor institu-
tion concept (Friedman et al., 2013 ), the research literature is devoid of empirical
studies examining the comprehensive infl uence and impact. Researchers have not
substantially considered how strategies employed and considered effective with a
university in one city might translate and work in another. Single case studies
(Groves, Revel, & Leather, 2003 ; Hubbard, 2009 ; Macintyre, 2003 ; McGirr, Kull,
& Enns, 2003 ) have explored and identifi ed individual initiatives that collectively
can be “cobbled together” to demonstrate a university’s impact. However, single
case studies are less effective in suggesting the need and importance of a university’s
efforts to promote a city’s economic and social development .
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
8.9 Potential of Anchor Institutions for City Development
When universities serve as community anchors, they make specifi c decisions to
leverage various forms of capital, including economic, human, and intellectual, to
advance the well-being of their local communities (Hodges & Dubb, 2012 ).
Intellectual capital is the most fundamental benefi t higher education institutions can
offer to their communities (Shaffer & Wright, 2010 ). Despite the lack of empirical
examination of universities as anchor institutions, the potential of higher education
to serve as anchor institutions has been recognized for several decades. In the 1990s,
researchers began to study the ways the potential of universities and hospitals to
serve a broader role in growing their communities (Anchor Institution Task Force,
2009 ; Benson & Harkavy, 1994 ; Geruson, 1994 ; Harkavy & Zuckerman, 1999 ). As
an example, Benson and Harkavy ( 1994 ) examined university-community schools
as a vehicle for universities to work to improve their communities. Higher education
institutions (“eds”) and hospitals (“meds”) have been labeled as a community’s
hidden assets in terms of their development potential (Harkavy & Zuckerman).
Nationally, 5 % of jobs are within these two sectors, a fi gure that increases to 11 %
in inner-city areas (Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, 2011 ). Eds and meds
bring several advantages to the community, including their purchasing power, local
hiring initiatives, research and teaching functions, real estate ownership, and a
“good neighbor” mentality (Harkavy & Zuckerman). During the 1990s, eds and
meds appeared to be immune from broader economic decline and continued their
growth even as other kinds of industries faltered (Parillo & De Socio, 2014 ).
Especially when compared to manufacturing, construction, and retail sectors, higher
education institutions and hospitals remain reliable sources of employment growth
(Harkavy & Zuckerman, 1999 ; Parillo & De Socio, 2014 ).
Taylor and Luter ( 2013 ) contend that scholars frequently fail to clearly defi ne
and apply the anchor institution term. Anchor institutions demonstrate four major
properties that serve as a useful framework for understanding their potential role
and purpose, including spatial immobility, corporate status, size, and mission
(related to social purpose, justice, and democracy). Table 8.2 summarizes these
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ( 2005 ) defi nes anchor
institutions as (1) having regional signifi cance and (2) serving as a key economic
driver. More specifi cally, HUD identifi es anchor institutions as those organizations
that generate jobs, create business opportunities, and develop the human, social, and
cultural capital of their city-regions. In order to satisfy all of these criteria, an insti-
tution will necessarily be fairly large in size. Small cultural institutions often lack
the capital investment to signifi cantly drive economic activity in their communities.
Anchor institutions typically are not only the largest employers in their cities
(Birch, 2007 ), but also possess substantial purchasing power (Camden Higher
Education and Health Care Task Force, 2008 ). The largest expense for higher
education institutions, like many large businesses, is employee salary and benefi ts,
a share of which is often reinvested in the local city’s economy.
M. Harris and K. Holley
Local allegiance, institutional identity, and support of local cities have been
important in the location of higher education originating from the founding of the
earliest colonial colleges (Thelin, 2004 ), emphasizing their potential to serve as
anchor institutions. Colleges and universities may derive part of their identities from
the local community or enjoy the benefi t of subsidies to maintain their location.
Universities may even be named for their cities, signaling meaningful ties between
locale and institution. For example, institutions such as the University of New
Orleans, University of Richmond, University of Denver, University of Chicago, and
Portland State University would seem to have a connection to their cities simply
because of their names.
Educational innovations are changing the way in which individuals learn and
perceptions of “place-based” learning. Online and distance learning enables stu-
dents to engage with university programs well beyond the boundaries of the city-
region. Yet for institutions that assume the mantle of anchor institutions, the
geographical bond to a community can result in the interconnected relationships
through mission, invested capital, and/or connections to customers or employees
and their specifi c location (Webber & Karlstrom, 2009 ). While close physical prox-
imity is an important element of business-university engagement, it is not the sole
requirement, or in some cases, an essential requirement (Bercovitz & Feldman,
2006 ). As Stachowiak and colleagues ( 2013 ) suggest, an “ innovative infrastruc-
ture ,” or internal structures that support research and innovation, helps extend the
benefi ts of the university beyond the campus. Through a historical study of Johns
Hopkins University and the city of Baltimore, Feldman and Desrochers ( 2003 ) con-
clude that a city needs a culture of innovation or policies that favor entrepreneurship
to fully capture the benefi ts of a research university and support successful
university- business engagement that achieves the aims of cities, businesses, and
Although higher education institutions may have a service responsibility as part
of their mission, Webber and Karlstrom ( 2009 ) argue that colleges and universities
could serve a more prominent role in the community if they better understood the
Table 8.2 Components of an anchor institution
Component Defi nition
Tied to a specifi c location due to mission, investment or community
relationships (Webber & Karlstrom,
2009 ); provides anchor institutions a
strong economic stake in the health of the surround community (Harkavy &
1999 )
Corporate Status Institutions identifi ed as anchor institutions are typically non-profi t; private
businesses are footloose in nature, thus may not stay place bound (Taylor &
2013 )
Institutional size Anchors employ large numbers of people and have signifi cant purchasing
power (Camden Higher Education and Health Care Task Force,
2008 ); scale
matters (McCuan,
2007 )
Anchors commonly possess a social-purpose mission and have social and
cultural infl uence in the community (Maurrasse,
2001 )
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
costs, benefi ts, and range of strategic options available to anchor institutions. In a
white paper discussing the potential of universities, they propose that institutions do
not play a larger role in their communities because of misperceptions regarding the
benefi ts of engagement and excessive fears of the dangers in getting involved.
Institutions that are not actively engaged in their communities often undervalue the
potential of engagement, overestimate the risks and costs, fail to conduct careful
assessment of costs and benefi ts, and do not consider the full range of strategies and
opportunities for promoting community change. Feldman and Desrochers ( 2003 )
echo this claim in their study of Johns Hopkins’ impact on Baltimore. They con-
clude that the university did not seek to promote or develop the community as part
of their research activities or mission. Their fi ndings as well as those of other
researchers (Miner, Eesley, Devaughn, & Rura-Polley, 2001 ; Slaughter, 2001 ) raise
questions for further research about whether putting pressure on universities to
serve this broader purpose is hurting institutions and damaging the U.S. system of
8.10 The Role of a Social Purpose Mission
Anchor institutions may not only serve a social purpose, but also use their economic
might to support local businesses and communities. For instance, institutions may
prioritize the purchase of locally-made products or may implement a hiring initia-
tive designed for specifi c community populations. Even small changes in an institu-
tion’s fi nancial policies can create substantial social and economic benefi ts in the
local community (Serang et al., 2010 ). The Business Alliance for Local Living
Economies (Howard, 2012 ) offers several examples of universities directing their
purchasing power locally, but little peer-reviewed scholarship examines this issue.
Debate exists over what role organizational mission plays in the defi nition of an
anchor institution. The Anchor Institution Task Anchor Institution Task Force
( 2009 ), a think tank supported by the University of Pennsylvania that focuses on
long term strategies for anchor institutions, argues that anchor institutions should
hold a social-purpose mission. The task force posits that these institutions demon-
strate inherent core values of democracy, equity, and social justice that enable the
organization to serve as a force of change. Benson, Harkavy, and Puckett ( 2007 )
extend this argument, calling for higher education institutions to “give full-minded
devotion” to assuming the role and purpose of supporting civic and social responsi-
bility. Although social responsibility plays an important role in the mission and
activities of many higher education institutions (Saltmarsh & Hartley, 2010 ), the
research literature suggests that, unlike size or immobility, a civic or social justice
mission is not a specifi c requirement for anchor institutions (Taylor & Luter, 2013 ).
Moreover, little empirical evidence exists regarding the degree to which institutions
actively operationalize a social justice mission.
M. Harris and K. Holley
The concept of anchor institutions relates to other notions that invoke the social
responsibility of higher education institutions, including the engaged university
(Bok, 1982 ) and civic engagement (Kronick, Dahlin-Brown, & Luter, 2011 ) The
engaged university movement has developed and evolved over the past few decades
through programs such as service learning (Kronick & Cunningham, 2013 ) and
community schools affi liated with higher education institutions (Benson et al.,
2007 ). These types of programs bring students, faculty, and institutions together
with the surrounding community, and ultimately help achieve the university’s teach-
ing mission. In a quantitative, longitudinal study of over 22,000 students in the
United States, Astin and Vogelgesang ( 2000 ) compared the effects of formal,
course-based service-learning to more general forms of community service. After
accounting for student and institutional characteristics, they found benefi ts of
course-based service for 11 different learning outcomes.
8.11 Partnerships Between Universities and Communities
Colleges and universities as anchor institutions may contribute to city-region devel-
opment through community enhancement, including community service and ser-
vice learning projects, continuing education courses, and public lectures. These city
development efforts are closely related to the service mission of higher education
(D. Watson, Hollister, Stroud, & Babcock, 2011 ). When higher education institu-
tions partner with city leaders to benefi t the surrounding community, they may
focus on economic and social strategies where each partner can contribute exper-
tise. In their study of college presidents, the American Council on Education ( 2012 )
found that 87 % of presidents serve on boards of nonprofi t organizations.
Additionally, 62 % of public institution presidents and 27 % of private institution
presidents served on economic development boards.
Universities working as partners with their surrounding communities are not
novel or unprecedented. The Latin root of the word university focuses on the notion
of community, or combining individuals into a shared body of knowledge (Neave,
2000 ). As the mission of the university grew in complexity and scope during the
twentieth century, the concept of a university could no longer be simply defi ned as
a community of scholars working within the ivory tower. Numerous examples exist
of ways that colleges and universities infl uenced their communities, and that com-
munities in turn infl uence higher education institutions. As the American urban
crisis escalated in the mid-twentieth century, urban universities could not avoid the
problems of crime and physical deterioration that plagued their neighborhoods
(Benson & Harkavy, 1994 ; Rodin, 2007 ). Many urban universities decided it was in
their long-term interest, both for their core academic mission and the vitality of their
cities, to focus on improving their local community. “Enlightened self-interest”
drove these institutions to engage in the problems of their communities (Taylor &
2013 ).
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
The collaboration of multiple organizations including higher education institu-
tions may contribute to strengthened civic indicators such as improved educational
outcomes, reduced crime rates, and accessible public transportation systems (Savan,
2004 ). The Sustainable Toronto project, for example, is a community-based research
initiative involving the University of Toronto, York University, the City of Toronto,
and local environmental groups. Community-based research encompasses an array
of research practices that engage members of the community and outside research-
ers in enquiry that promotes a deeper understanding of community issues (Savan &
Sider, 2003 ). Using three types of partnerships (consultative, contractual, and col-
laborative), the project resulted in a variety of advantages for the community and
project including promotional efforts in support of sustainability, assessment of
monitoring, capacity building initiatives, and the successful submission of grant
applications for future projects. In addition, Savan found in an evaluation of the
initiative that the coordination of higher education, local government, and commu-
nity groups created tight linkages between the partners and these linkages contrib-
uted to the project’s positive outcomes. Community-based research proved benefi cial
as an effective and effi cient approach for local research and development.
Real estate development is a common current strategy that universities may
employ as anchor institutions and in support of their own aspirations. Universities
work in concert with their neighbors and communities on matters related to land
acquisition and physical infrastructure (Kysiak, 1986 ). Several decades ago, higher
education institutions often were not interested in building connections with their
cities. Instead, institutional leaders sought to isolate the campus from a deteriorating
community by building literal walls around campus or purchasing surrounding
property in an effort to shield the campus. Kysiak described relations between
Northwestern University and Yale University and their cities as increasingly acerbic
over time. The universities made unilateral decisions without consulting city lead-
ers. In turn, cities saw their universities as non-taxpaying drains on city resources.
The attempt to disengage ultimately failed to achieve the aims of either institution
or their cities as urban economic and social problems escalated, threatening the
long-term success of both cities and higher education institutions. Ultimately, city
and campus leaders realized the value of linkages between campuses and cities and
encouraged new partnerships, relationships, and a broader sense of togetherness
(Kretzmann & McKnight, 1993 ; Martin, Smith, & Phillips, 2005 ).
Examinations of successful reform efforts suggest that universities create “com-
munities of practice” (Scobey, 2002 ) and draw on coalitions and the collective
expertise of communities to work on community problems. Reorienting the univer-
sity to work collaboratively with the community helps the institution form more
productive relationships with stakeholders better enabling the university to serve an
anchor institution (Cantor et al., 2013 ). This collaborative effort moves the work
from university solutions to shared solutions. The goal is to “merge innovation and
full participation ” [emphasis in original] in order to form productive relationships
between higher education institutions and local stakeholders (Cantor et al., p. 21).
Numerous examples exist of higher education institutions engaged in collaborative
partnerships with their urban neighbors. The Great Cities Institute at the University
M. Harris and K. Holley
of Illinois at Chicago fosters connections among institutional stakeholders, both
inside and outside of the university. For instance, past initiatives have included par-
ticipatory budgeting for public funds, a process that lets community members
directly determine how to spend part of a public budget (Baiocchi & Lerner, 2007 ).
An evaluation report for the Participatory Budgeting Process showed an increase in
participation in the budgeting initiative by people of color, low-income residents,
and young people (Crum, Baker, Salinas, & Weber, 2015 ). Over $1.6 million addi-
tional funds were allocated to community projects beyond the city’s initial budget.
Residents expressed satisfaction in learning how the Participatory Budgeting
Process works, and 84 % felt they gained some infl uence over community improve-
ment. As Cantor and her colleagues ( 2013 ) note, higher education institutions, as
members of the community, both produce the problems that surround them, and also
enable potential solutions.
8.12 Balancing Global and Local Trends Within Cities
Modern advances in areas such as communication and transportation as well as
broader globalization trends have brought changes to major metropolitan cities and
regional economies. Evidence of the growth of the knowledge economy can be seen
in a move from economies driven by the production and distribution of goods to
those driven by information exchange and the high-level provision of services
(Kasarda, 1988 ). The twentieth century economic mainstays of manufacturing,
warehouses, and retail have largely disappeared, replaced by white-collar jobs
requiring postsecondary training. For example, large cities in the industrial Midwest
and Northeast United States that historically relied on manufacturing such as steel
or automotive struggled as those industries declined when fi rms moved to countries
that provided lower wages and more advantageous economic conditions. Some of
the cities, such as Pittsburgh, retooled their economies and focused on new areas of
science, technology, and engineering (Power, Ploger, & Winkler, 2010 ). In a study
of major American and European cities that successfully transitioned their econo-
mies, Power et al. ( 2010 ) found that universities served a valuable role in fueling
scientifi c and knowledge advances as well as the ability to recruit knowledge work-
ers. These cities were able to transition from their industrial base to an economically
more viable bias that improved the social well-being of its citizens.
Extant research recognizes the import of large cities to global functions. In their
discussion of “world cities,” Friedmann and Wolff ( 1982 ) note that these locations
play a signifi cant role in global fi nance, decision-making, market expansion, and
production. The defi nition of a world city is not wholly a question of population
size, although the examples that Friedmann and Wolff cite (including San Francisco,
Miami, Los Angeles, and New York) have millions of residents. Rather, a world city
is one that is highly integrated, and in most cases essential, to the global network of
economic interactions. World cities are further characterized by employment growth
in professional sectors such as management, banking and fi nance, telecommunications,
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
research, and higher education. Sassen ( 2001 ) offers the complementary defi nition
of a “global city,” or a city that serves as a vital hub for fi nancial and production
services necessary to the global economy. Even for those local regions whose eco-
nomic infrastructure does not possess the global infl uences that defi ne world or
global cities, the two concepts suggest the possibilities of locally-specifi c infl uences
in a global world.
Given the global infl uences noted above, city-regions face harsh competition for
investment, which may indicate the potential value of the place-bound organizations
such as anchor institutions for supporting city development. The result of globaliza-
tion and concurrent transportation innovations is a mobile and fl exible stream of
capital and human resources. Using worldwide economic data, Ghemawat ( 2011 )
argues that, while globalization exists, the phenomenon has been overstated by con-
temporary researchers. In his book, Ghemawat describes how connectivity (i.e.,
communication and transportation) does not equal a merging or global integra-
tion—at least not to the degree argued by popular proponents such as Friedman
( 2007 , 2008 ). Rather, regional differences still matter in terms of how people expe-
rience the world. Moreover, despite technology, proximity both within and across
national borders explains some of the planet’s economic activity, in part because of
unique regional characteristics that infl uence integration. For cities, this argument
posits that building networks and reliance on local resources will drive the eco-
nomic success even within a more globalized environment. Simply put, the proxim-
ity of universities matters to cities even as higher education and cities engage more
globally (Bercovitz & Feldman, 2006 ).
Within this context, higher education institutions play a key anchoring role—
developing industry concurrent with research priorities, fostering partnerships with
industry, and producing and retaining graduates that contribute to future develop-
ments (Jones, Williams, Lee, Coats, & Cowling, 2006 ). The ways that the various
actors in a city including higher education, government, and businesses engage with
each other infl uences the direction of cities throughout the industrialized world. In
Europe, the changing emphasis on leadership and government at the local level is
called “localization” (Gaffi kin & Morrissey, 2011 ). Simultaneous with the changing
emphasis on local governance and the value of place, globalization results in a para-
dox, what Swyngedouw ( 1997 ) terms glocalization, where individual city-regions
form webs of global interactions and networks of economic activity. Understanding
globalization requires understanding the ways in which local activities, knowledge,
and resources shape global perceptions and engagement (Quelch & Jocz, 2012 ).
Despite these changes that occur as a result of globalization, the importance of
local context inside large cities has grown more important, not less (Malecki, 2013 ).
Globalization forces seem isomorphic, but the interaction with local conditions,
networks, and resources creates different outcomes (Morley, 2003 ). Audretsch
( 1998 ) and Jaffe ( 1989 ) in studies of university research and innovative activity fi nd
that, although material goods and information may be transported easily across
global space, the nuances of tacit knowledge as a necessary component of innovation
require a more local network to ensure a competitive advantage. Local environments
M. Harris and K. Holley
particularly at the policy level place greater importance on how actors engage with
one another within a city as well as other unique local contexts.
8.13 Stakeholder Theory
Understanding the behavior of anchor institutions requires researchers to under-
stand the ways anchor institutions act in partnership with other stakeholders. By
their very nature, anchor institutions engage to varying degrees with many local
organizations, businesses, and municipal governments. Used in the study of for-
profi t business corporations, stakeholder theory is useful for explaining the infl u-
ence of cities and communities on universities (Jongbloed, Enders, & Salerno,
2008 ). Before discussing the use of stakeholder theory in higher education, we
briefl y explain the usefulness of the theory more generally. The central tenet of the
theory is that stakeholders represent individuals or groups of individuals from inside
or outside the organization who affect institutional behavior or conversely, are
affected by institutional behavior (Freeman, 1984 ). As such, stakeholders play a key
role in facilitating the resources that an institution needs to survive. The need for
secure and stable resources drives the behavior of nearly all organizations, and spe-
cifi cally requires universities to diligently assess stakeholder relationships.
Considering that stakeholders possess resources of value (policy decisions, funding,
recommendations, and the like), university leaders benefi t by considering the views
and desires of these external communities when making decisions about the future
of the university.
The infl uence of stakeholders depends on the nature of the stakeholders them-
selves as well as the university. Key stakeholders of an anchor institution typically
include state and federal governments, students, parents, alumni, businesses, foun-
dations, and donors (Burrows, 1999 ). A university that serves as an anchor institu-
tion may well have similar stakeholders to a university that does not operate as an
anchor. Research has not explored if anchor institutions’ stakeholders differ from
other universities or if the interactions with specifi c stakeholder groups change with
the expanded mission. Understanding how stakeholder groups and interactions may
change when serving as an anchor institution remains an underdeveloped area of the
anchor institution literature .
Although stakeholder theory implicitly assumes that stakeholders are relatively
homogeneous , Wolfe and Putler ( 2002 ) extend the theory to suggest that a lack of
analytic rigor and a focus on role-based stakeholders blurs the heterogeneity that
exists between stakeholder groups. Rather, the authors theorize that subgroups may
hold divergent views and require different approaches in organization-stakeholder
interactions. Relevant for the study of anchor institutions is the value of bridging
organizations, which are particularly important in a region with high stakeholder
heterogeneity. Bridging organizations can operate in a way that reduces cultural
barriers (Folke, Hahn, Olsson, & Norberg,
2005 ), and provide a shared space where
different interests can be discussed and aligned with the larger city-region priorities.
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
They do this by fi rst including multiple organizations and knowledge systems that
can enhance decision-making by capturing the complementary skills and knowl-
edge of partners (Berkes, 2009 ). The potential exists for knowledge to be generated
as a sum of the various institutional contributions. Second, institutions can learn
from engagement with others. The links between the various organizations can be
horizontal, where individuals in similar positions of authority and expertise work in
cross-institutional partnerships, or vertical, engaging multiple levels of the organi-
zation (Berkes). Cash et al. ( 2006 ) offer examples of cross-scale institutions involved
in ecological protection, emphasizing the need for bridging organizations to com-
municate across the different groups and develop a shared message.
Several scholars have utilized stakeholder theory to explain the infl uence of cit-
ies on higher education institutions and expand the defi nition of anchor institutions.
Stachowiak, Pinheiro, Sedini, and Vaattovaara ( 2013 ) suggest the concept of “spaces
of interaction ” as the venues where universities and external stakeholder groups
interact with one another. The spaces integrate the city-region’s business, commu-
nity, city development, and cultural efforts with the teaching, research, and “third
mission activities” of the university. Third mission activities have historically been
conceptualized as service, or the ways in which contemporary higher education
engages with society and industry. Beyond the teaching and research function, ser-
vice activities allow for the application of knowledge to economic and cultural
development . One result of the interaction between cities and higher education is
that both groups increasingly value the formal and informal networks that exist
(Stachowiak et al., 2013 ).
Both types of networks c an offer direct and indirect benefi ts for cities and univer-
sities. Engagement with the business sector occurs through such institutional func-
tions as spin-off company development, technology transfer, and research
partnerships. These shared interactions, refl ective of what Clark ( 1998 ) labeled the
extended development periphery of higher education, occur in locations including
research parks and business incubators.
8.14 Developing Creativity for Economic Competitiveness
From an economic perspective, creativity is closely tied to innovation, which refers
to the generation and application of new ideas. Without creativity to support the
innovation pipeline, “innovation is an engine without any fuel,” concludes McLean
( 2005 , p. 227). A perspective popular in policy circles suggests that, in order to suc-
ceed in recruiting, training, and retaining knowledge workers, large metropolitan
cities require infrastructure and resources to provide the amenities and quality of
life desired by what Richard Florida ( 2002 ) calls the “creative class.” McLean
( 2005 ) defi nes creativity as the production of work that is original and useful.
Creative and knowledge-based industries include those in arts, media, advertising
and publishing, fi nance, law, and telecommunications. These industries often resist
outsourcing and provide high skill, high paying jobs for citizens. The concentration
M. Harris and K. Holley
of creative industries, defi ned as those that provide the material goods and services
required for artistic, cultural or entertainment, is assumed to facilitate broader eco-
nomic success (Caves, 2000 ; Hall, 2000 ; Landry, 2000 ; Musterd, 2004 ; Turok,
2004 ). As a result, cities are motivated to recruit fi rms and workers for creative
industries (Bontje & Musterd, 2009 ; Chapain & Lee, 2009 ). Higher education insti-
tutions have the potential to play a key role in the development of technology, talent,
and tolerance that are inherent to a creative economy (Florida, Gates, Knudsen, &
Stolarick, 2006 ).
The concept of the creative class aligns with the increased realization that eco-
nomic success depends on the growth and development of people, not simply the
growth of industry. According to Florida ( 2002 ), large urban cities with vibrant
cultural opportunities, a high tolerance for diversity, and engaged anchor institu-
tions are able to attract more talented and creative people, who in turn drive innova-
tion and growth. Florida’s statement is built on assumptions regarding economic
growth and the city-region. One assumption is that creativity is the driving force
behind economic growth, and that the twenty-fi rst century refl ects not just a knowl-
edge economy, but also a creative economy. The force of creativity shapes human
behavior. As such, no longer is economic growth stimulated solely through business
development, resulting in people moving to specifi c regions for employment.
Rather, creativity shapes meaningful new forms of behavior recognized for their
economic potential; the jobs then move to the people. When viewed from the per-
spective of anchor institutions, economic growth occurs not just from business
development, but also from the civic engagement of key organizations that promote
a culture that fosters creativity, diversity, and tolerance.
8.15 Attracting Talent: Creative Class Theory
In terms of talent, higher education institutions attract students, faculty, and admin-
istrators. Institutions with a reputation for fostering industry partnerships might also
infl uence the location of surrounding businesses. When integrated with other com-
ponents of the major cities, higher education institutions become the creative hub
for economic development (Florida et al., 2006 ). The perception of higher educa-
tion institutions as creative hubs is central to documenting a region’s brain gain
index (Mountford, 1997 ; Stark, 2003 ; Vidal, 1998 ) or creativity index (Florida,
2005 ; Kong & O’Connor, 2009 ). The former illustrates the transfer of human capital
resources between different regions. The spatial infl uence of a concentration of
human capital stimulates economic development as a high collection of college
graduates increases wages and overall economic activity (Domina, 2006 ). The index
is not solely determined on the residence of a single college-educated or high skilled
worker, but rather, the overall increase (or decrease) in population and the percent-
age of those with a college degree or other particular skillsets. The creativity index
examines indicators of technology, talent, and tolerance through an analysis of a
city-region’s skilled workforce, the representation of high-technology industry, the
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
number of patented innovations per capita, and the percentage of the population
who identify with (and are open to) diverse lifestyles (Florida, 2005 ).
8.16 Challenges for Researchers in Using the Creative
Class Theory
Despite its popularity with policymakers, urban planners, and the general public
(Center for Cultural Policy Research, 2003 ; Eakin, 2002 ; Martin-Brelot, Grossetti,
Eckert, Gritsai, & Kovacs, 2010 ; Wiesand & Sondermann, 2005 ), the concept of the
creative class and its relationship to economic growth within large urban cities is not
immune from criticism. Some economists believe various data on economic devel-
opment support the notion that city-regions with a skilled workforce, healthy infra-
structure, and an engaged market can fi nd increased economic growth (Florida,
2005 ; Glaeser, 2011 ). Others argue that fi ndings and additional analyses suggest
that these attributes do not cause economic growth, but rather a city may offer a set-
ting where risk is reduced and productivity can be enhanced, which are crucial
ingredients for industry success (Bontje & Musterd, 2009 ; Peck, 2005 ; Puga, 2010 ;
Shearmur, 2012 ). Skeptics also question the legitimacy of the creative class argu-
ment citing the limited empirical basis for the work and the lack of consideration of
historical context (Hall, 2004 ; Peck, 2005 ; Sawicky, 2003 ; Shearmur, 2012 ). Critics
point to two weaknesses in the relationship between the creative class and local
economic advantages. First, the empirical evidence supporting the relationship
between desirable amenities such as parks, restaurants, and high-end development
is weak (Storper & Manville, 2006 ). Second, economic growth cannot be explained
solely by understanding the needs and behavior of the creative class, but must also
consider labor demand and industry preferences (Peck, 2005 ).
The question of which came fi rst—the university or the business—challenges
researchers in their understanding of local and regional economic development. The
debate over the casual inferences aside, the key point for higher education research-
ers is to consider the role of higher education institutions in attracting the creative
class, providing amenities, and developing an infrastructure supportive of creative
work specifi cally and knowledge-based work more generally. By better understand-
ing the role of colleges and universities in these elements of the creative class the-
ory, higher education scholars can provide evidence on ways universities engage in
these activities and better data for economists seeking to unpack the causal mecha-
nisms at work in supporting creative cities.
Further, defi ning the creative class proves diffi cult. Florida ( 2002 , 2005 , 2006)
describes the creative class as the individuals in occupations that support innovation
(such as computer programming, engineering, science, etc.) in addition to creative
professionals (in such sectors as healthcare, education, law, business, etc.) who hold
advanced degrees. However, Markusen (
2006 ) , in a study of artists as an example of
creative occupations, argues that clusters of such workers do little to demonstrate
M. Harris and K. Holley
creativity, but rather illustrate high human capital as indicated by numbers of years
of higher education. Her fi ndings reveal that artists demonstrate more complexity
than described by Florida in their formation, location, urban impact, and politics.
Higher education scholars can contribute to the knowledge in this area by consider-
ing two separate but related questions. First, how do students and later graduates
differ by discipline, degree level, and demographically? This information could
help clarify differences between occupations within the creative class. Second, how
does institutional activity differ based on the diversity of academic programs? For
example, do institutions with more STEM programs engage in public service activi-
ties in their communities differently than liberal arts colleges? As researchers tease
out the ways a diversity of academic programs infl uence institutional activity, the
resulting knowledge would be useful in classifying and describing how program-
matic diversity contributes to the ways higher education functions as an anchor
institution and promotes city development.
The literature also fails to fully resolve if low-income workers benefi t from the
higher wages earned by the creative class within a city. Future researchers should
consider how economic and social growth of a large metropolitan city may accrue
to the population unequally or unevenly. Florida and Mellander ( 2014 ) suggest that,
if low-income workers earn higher wages in a creative region than in a non-creative
region, this increase may be undercut by higher costs of living, including housing
and food. The conceptual argument is that the trickle-down benefi ts of supporting
the creative class grow the broader urban economy, but research has not yet deter-
mined how or why this trickle-down may occur. When workers are physically iso-
lated from job opportunities or confi ned to areas with little to no industry, economic
growth spreads unevenly across the region (Hanson, Kominiak, & Carlin, 1997 ;
Ihlanfeldt & Sjoquist, 1998 ).
8.17 Human Capital, Labor Markets, and Student
The description of a creative economy as envisioned by (Florida, 2002 ) provides
insight into the structure of a city desired by many policymakers (Eakin, 2002 ). In
creative cities, newcomers can quickly fi nd communities where they have a shared
identity. An increased likelihood of matches between worker skills and industry
needs in a labor market results in higher productivity and wages (Moretti, 2012 ).
Individuals also have a higher chance of fi nding another job in the event of unem-
ployment. Diversity is important for the knowledge creative process by creating
more possibilities for ideas and people to interact (Wedemeier, 2009 ). In addition,
these cities possess soft conditions or the amenities and high quality of life (Musterd,
Bontje, Chapain, Kovacs, & Murie, 2007 ) that are perceived as particularly vital to
local culture. Larger cities that have a higher education institution hold probable
advantages to the development of a creative economy, largely due to the role of
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
higher education institutions in promoting human capital. Polese ( 2009 ) argues that
two parallel processes are involved, as highly educated knowledge workers move
into rather than out of large cities and larger cities (with more and/or larger higher
education institutions) produce more university graduates.
In an examination of the labor pool in 38 U.S. metropolitan city economies,
Feser ( 2003 ) illustrates how a broad but complementary set of industries strength-
ens employment opportunities as well as the regional economy. Identifying occupa-
tional characteristics such as production and processing, economics and accounting,
design, engineering and technology, and management allow for the grouping of
occupations based on the skillset of the worker. Among the occupational clusters
identifi ed by Feser ( 2003 ) are artists and performers in Los Angeles and New York;
life scientists in Boston; computer engineers in Austin; and fi nancial services per-
sonnel in San Francisco. While these complementary industries form a knowledge
network within the city, they also provide multiple opportunities for employment.
In order to better understand the ow of human capital, scholars developed the
spatial mismatch hypothesis (Ihlanfeldt & Sjoquist, 1998 ), which suggests that
employment and income levels are infl uenced by where people live and the proxim-
ity to job opportunities. Examination of intra-metropolitan labor markets reveals
clear patterns by race, ethnicity, and income level (Hanson et al., 1997 ) and raises
questions about how the spatial distribution of jobs explains high unemployment in
urban central cores (Raphael, 1998 ; Thomas, 1998 ; Thompson, 1997 ; Zhang, 1998 ).
Ihlanfeldt and Sjoquist ( 1998 ) review the research literature and conclude that there
are fewer jobs per workers in areas with a high percentage of African-American
residents as compared to areas with a high percentage of white residents (Gabriel &
Rosenthal, 1996 ; McLafferty & Preston, 1992 ). These issues are complicated by
questions of housing discrimination, limited public transportation options, and
employment discrimination. Well-researched limits on how far people are willing
and able to geographically travel for a job based on the income from the job (Gabriel
& Rosenthal), the type of job (McLafferty & Preston, 1996 ), and the cost of com-
muting (Sanchez, 1999 ) add additional complexity to questions about city-region
For higher education scholars, improving understanding of labor market trends
within a large urban city could prove useful in explaining students’ decisions to
attend postsecondary education. Future research might consider the interplay
between job opportunities and income levels and how these variables infl uence
higher education attendance. Research could also inform understanding of how a
student’s experience in higher education infl uences migration after graduation. This
line of research would help to inform understanding of whether and how recruiting
and retaining individuals with high educational attainment drives a city’s growth
and development. Also useful would be to improve knowledge of whether a stu-
dent’s experience while attending higher education infl uences where they live after
graduation. Among the potentially fruitful question is: does participation in a co-op
program or internship increase the likelihood of a student remaining in a city?
Higher education researchers can also consider the policy levers city leaders may
use to retain students and limit a city’s brain drain. Existing research largely consid-
M. Harris and K. Holley
ers student and state level factors that infl uence student migration (L. Zhang &
Ness, 2010 ). Perna and Titus ( 2004 ) found an increase in state appropriations
encouraged higher education enrollment of students from outside the state. In a
study using a two-stage least-squares model, Baryla and Dotterweich ( 2001 ) found
students are not concerned about price, but with academic quality and favorable
post-graduation employment prospects. Future higher education researchers should
explore the dynamics involved in academic quality and post-graduation employ-
ment so as to determine ways for cities to encourage and support these two factors
and consequently advance their development. As additional studies build the knowl-
edge base in these areas, scholars will be able to answer the key questions outlined
and thus provide better specifi city to the theories and empirical understanding
related to the creative class theory.
8.18 Higher Education’s Infl uence on Economic Geography
A discussion of economic development and the role of anchor institutions within
urban settings is best framed by considerations of local social, economic, historical,
and political contexts (Marquis & Battilana, 2009 ). Economic geography is a branch
of economics that considers the location and organization of economic activity
within geographic space including concepts such as agglomeration economies, gen-
trifi cation, and urban economics. Economist Paul Krugman ( 1991 ) studies traits of
economic geography and concludes that understanding local specialization offers
tremendous insight into the drivers of regional growth. Moreover, he fi nds that the
concentration of production in particular spaces is the most noteworthy feature of
the geography of economic activity. The economic base serves as a foundation for
new growth and development. Local conditions such as employment rates, employ-
ment by sector, and local gross domestic product are fundamental determinants of
economic growth and change. Higher education institutions contribute to this pro-
cess directly as well as indirectly by spending money locally, hiring local workers,
and increasing the local level of human capital (Feldman, 1994b ). Florax ( 1992 )
identifi es the substantial regional effects of a university (see Table 8.3 ).
The “knowledge spillover” from colleges and universities infl uences local com-
munities through the fl ow of knowledge into and out of the institution (Florax,
1992 ; Oort, 2002 ). One way that knowledge spillover occurs is through a codifi ed
process, such as patent development. Product innovations tend to cluster along geo-
graphic lines and are typically refl ective of the presence of higher education institu-
tions (Feldman, 1994a ). Innovative discoveries do not travel on a linear path from
the research laboratory to the store shelves.
In order to understand the impact of university behavior, scholars consider the
presence of private industry, or private research and development sectors (Oort,
2002 ). Geographic clusters of related industries in large U.S. city-regions such as
Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Raleigh-Durham, Denver, and Portland suggest that
knowledge-exchange networks can facilitate positive economic impacts and that
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
higher education institutions might anchor these networks. Higher education insti-
tutions serve as a key ingredient by promoting regional growth through their knowl-
edge networks (Florax, 1992 ), but the presence of (and interaction among) other
kinds of regional institutions can support this growth.
This infl uence is especially evident in industries that require new economic
knowledge (Feldman & Audretsch, 1999 ). For example, a larger effect of knowl-
edge spillover has been found in the electronics and instruments industry than in
pharmaceuticals and chemical industries (Anselin, Varga, & Acs, 1997 ). Institutional
prestige is also important in the collaboration between higher education and differ-
ent industries. As Laursen, Reichstein, and Salter ( 2011 ) found, industries are more
inclined to collaborate with a higher-tier academic institution, particularly when the
institution is located in close proximity.
8.19 Measuring Economic Impact
Cities may leverage the technical expertise of their universities to recruit high-level
research, science, and technology based businesses by building on the research and
academic programs of the universities. Employers moving to a new city may bring
their most highly skilled and knowledgeable workers with them. Yet, these fi rms
require a suffi cient locally educated and trained workforce, which is the role of
higher education (Power et al., 2010 ). Power and colleagues suggest that education
levels within a region are a key indicator of economic growth, since businesses seek
to locate in areas with a ready workforce and higher education levels are associated
with higher income levels.
The economic impact of higher education institutions can be classifi ed and
measured in several different ways (Felsenstein, 1996 ; Stokes & Coomes, 1998 ).
Table 8.4 summarizes examples of these approaches.
Table 8.3 Classifi cation and examples of the regional effects of the university
Regional effect
upon: Example
Politics Changes in the political structure, an increase in citizen participation,
improvement in the organization of political processes
Demography Effects upon population growth, population structure and upon mobility
Economy Effects upon regional income, industrial structure, job market, and labor
Infrastructure Effects upon housing, traffi c, healthcare services, retail
Culture Greater offer in cultural goods, infl uence upon cultural environment
Attractiveness Infl uence upon the region’s image, regional identity
Education Effects upon participation rate, changes in its quality
Social aspects Effects upon the quality of life, the infl uence of the students, infl uence
upon the region’s image and regional identity
M. Harris and K. Holley
Economic impact studies seek to measure these outcomes. Institutions themselves
conduct many of the studies of this nature in an effort to demonstrate their value to
the community. The challenge of university impact studies is determining what spe-
cifi cally constitutes an economic impact. Possible impacts include fi nancial
resources, which account for monies that fl ow into an institution and their subse-
quent impact elsewhere, and gross regional product, which examine the total value
of a particular industry (Christophersen, Nadreau, & Olanie,
2014 ). Determining
economic impact requires identifying the net change of a region’s economy based
on what the economy would like without the institution being studied (Watson,
Wilson, Thilmany, & Winter, 2007 ).
Another approach to measuring the economic impact of higher education institu-
tions on large metropolitan cities is through university-induced growth, or examina-
tions of how higher education institutions contribute to economic growth processes
1996 ). This growth is evident in multiple sectors, including small busi-
nesses, service industries, construction and real estate, and start-up companies. In a
study of 300 start-up companies developed at Canadian research universities since
1995, Clayman and Holbrook ( 2003 ) noted that the majority of companies were still
operating a decade later, and the majority were located in close proximity to the
institution at which they were founded.
Higher education institutions positively contribute to local economic growth,
especially in terms of the supply and demand for skilled human capital (Abel &
Deitz, 2011b ). This supply and demand can be seen in the labor market surrounding
the institution. Degree production and research activities of higher education have a
small positive relationship on a city’s level of human capital (Abel & Deitz, 2011a ).
Cities may see indirect human capital impacts from local universities as a result of
increasing the overall education level (Siegfried, Sanderson, & McHenry, 2007 ).
Using longitudinal data to estimate a model of non-random selection of a city’s
workers, Moretti ( 2004 ) found that a 1 % point increase in college graduates infl u-
enced high school drop-outs’ wages (an increase of 1.9 %) as well as those for high
school graduates (an increase of 1.6 %). It is not only the production of skilled
Table 8.4 Classifi cation and examples of economic effects of the universities
Economic Effects: Example
Employment at the university Number of university jobs and related institutions
University income State contributions, fees, benefi ts arising from book sales,
University expenditures Purchase of goods and services of the university
Income and expenditures of the
university employees
Wages and salaries, social security costs expenses in
businesses, entertainment and culture, and public
Effects on the job market Production of credentials and infl uence on productivity
Generation of businesses Companies created by university students and employees,
with or without employment knowledge and technology
Knowledge marketing The sale of knowledge in a variety of ways: from ideas,
courses and patents
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
human capital that enhances cities, but also the fi elds, disciplines, or occupations in
which the graduates are trained. Graduates in STEM fi elds, for instance, engage in
higher levels of economic activity that raise the wages of other workers in the same
labor market than do graduates from non-STEM fi elds (Winters, 2014 ).
Spatial clustering theory offers insight into economic impact by focusing on
groups of organizations that share similar characteristics, interests, and motivations
(Felsenstein, 1996 ). In an era of academic capitalism, higher education institutions
operate closely and collaboratively with a network of other regional stakeholders
(Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004 ). These relationships may be explicitly defi ned through
organizational decision-making or result from spatial proximity and the presence of
permeable organizational boundaries. As an anchor institution, the position of the
university is of key importance for surrounding organizations. Higher education
generates a diffusive fertilizing infl uence on the regional economy, stimulating
growth and innovation through the spillover of knowledge, ideas, money, and peo-
ple. Even if a university does not actively seek to promote economic activity, insti-
tutional policies and decisions may heavily impact a metropolitan economy
(Felsenstein, 1996 ). Like much of the research on anchor institutions, empirical
analyses of this perspective have proven challenging. In addition to the direct inter-
action between the institution and the economy, the intervening infl uence of the
metropolitan area as well as the match between economic behavior and regional
attributes infl uence outcomes.
Higher education’s economic impact can also be understood through the behav-
ior of students. Students are often valuable users of culture and recreational activi-
ties providing a reliable base of consumers of these services (Wynne & O’Connor,
1998 ). The constant presence of students provides a base of support upon which a
city-region’s business, entertainment, and nonprofi t organizations can rely. By
ensuring a base level of support, businesses, amenities, and services may grow,
benefi tting a city’s population more broadly (Paul Chatterton, 1999 , 2000 ; Elliott,
Francis, Humphreys, & Istance, 1996 ; Hall, 1997 ; Kemp, 2013 ). Moreover, through
academic programs, extracurricular activities, and social engagement, students
serve as signifi cant producers of a city’s culture (Griffi ths, Bassett, & Smith, 1999 ).
8.20 Negative Economic Impacts of Higher Education
on Cities
Universities and their students may also create problems and challenges for major
city-regions (Gumprecht, 2003 ; Kemp, 2013 ; Russo et al., 2007 ). A case study of
the University of Cincinnati (McGirr et al., 2003 ) offers insight into how rapid
growth in student enrollment in the 1960s negatively infl uenced the surrounding
neighborhood. As part of campus expansion, street grids were re-designed and
housing stock decreased, increasing the commute time of students and staff. Overall,
the neighborhoods surrounding the university have slowly, yet dramatically,
M. Harris and K. Holley
deteriorated (McGirr et al., 2003 ). The authors point to a rapid decline in owner-
occupied housing as well as the failure of dry cleaning, hardware, and other local
businesses by the mid-1990s, at which time the university and the city began con-
versations about neighborhood revitalization. As a result of these efforts, both UC
and the city prioritize neighborhood culture, collaborative goals, the recycling of
existing institutional space, and more partnerships between the university and pri-
vate owners (McGirr et al., 2003 ). In a study of 15 California college towns, the
presence of a university imposed negative fi nancial implications including lower
property tax values and increased expenditures for services such as police and parks
and recreation (Baker-Minkel, Moody, & Kieser, 2004 ). Many cities have expressed
frustration with property tax exceptions for universities and have negotiated or
demanded payments from institutions in lieu of taxes (Brody, 2002 ; Fischer, 2010 ).
Students’ demand and economic behaviors can hurt weaker sectors of a city-
region’s economy. For example, student infl uence on housing availability (such as
when undergraduate students live in the community) represents an oft-cited chal-
lenge in town-gown relations (Groves et al., 2003 ; Hubbard, 2009 ; Macintyre,
2003 ). Patterns of migration, income availability, and expectations of students can
differ greatly from the rest of a city-region’s population. In a study of white working
class neighborhoods in England, Beider ( 2011 ) found that local residents believed
students were distinctly “others,” exhibiting different values and cultural norms
compared to permanent residents. In contrast to what has been found about the
broader positive economic effect of universities and students, research shows that
the demand for cheaper, below-standard housing can potentially slow regeneration,
hurt neighborhood revitalization efforts, and infl uence educational outcomes
(Beider, 2011 ; Lipman, 2008 ).
8.21 Toward a Future Research Agenda
Higher education policy is inherently jurisdictional. The Center for American
Progress and the Institute for Higher Education Policy identify 44 metropolitan
areas that cross state boundaries and account for 29 % of national gross domestic
product and 67.5 million people (Sponsler, Kienzl, & Wesaw, 2010 ). The consider-
able research focus on state level policy is understandable given that much of the
funding to higher education comes from these governments. However, the eco-
nomic, political, and social signifi cance of multistate metropolitan areas and large
cities more generally suggests the need to more adequately examine the higher edu-
cation issues in these contexts.
Higher education research often fails to substantially consider questions related
to the importance of place and geography. Local policies infl uence the environment
of higher education institutions and should be given greater attention by higher
education researchers. As one example, local policies in areas such as transportation
and zoning may affect the work of universities. Funding priorities, social and cultural
norms, and K-12 education quality may also impact higher education. We suggest
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
the need for a sustained line of inquiry that explores higher education issues within
the context of cities as well as exploring the work of universities serving as anchor
institutions; in the sections below, we build upon the future research questions intro-
duced earlier in this chapter.
8.22 Considerations for Researchers
Within the U.S. context, city- regions have played a powerful role in the develop-
ment of the social, political, and economic environments of people. One set of ques-
tions that future researchers should consider is how anchor institutions operate and
what role they play in cities with varying levels of economic well-being. The com-
petitiveness of city-regions relies on the support and encouragement of people,
rms, and higher education institutions that create and utilize knowledge (Initiative
for a Competitive Inner City, 2011 ; Porter, 2000 ; Turok, 2004 ). While globalization
increases the importance of creating knowledge through research, locality remains
a critical component for engaging and supporting the missions of higher education
institutions (Audretsch & Feldman, 2003 ; Malecki, 2013 ).
To better conduct empirical analyses of anchor institutions, researchers need to
improve or develop appropriate measures or proxies for university activities as part
of the anchor institution mission such as the functions identifi ed by Florax ( 1992 )
and noted in Table 8.2 . Much of the available research uses limited measures of
university activities including research funding, research expenditures, publica-
tions, or degrees awarded (Drucker & Goldstein, 2007 ). Potentially important crite-
ria such as politics, attractiveness, and social aspects receive little attention in the
literature. The challenge of measuring and quantifying these non-economic factors
most likely contributes to the lack of attention. Despite the challenge of isolating
these activities from others as well as the measurement diffi culties, fully under-
standing the signifi cance of universities as anchor institutions requires researchers
to identify and create proxies for important non-economic activities.
Studies that examine particular programs or approaches by universities to sup-
port their cities should continue. Savan ( 2004 ) and Cantor et al. ( 2013 ) are two use-
ful examples of case studies that consider specifi c university initiatives to support
communities. Future research can use similar single case study approaches as mod-
eled in these studies to explore in depth other ways universities infl uence their com-
munities. The scholarly literature would also benefi t from studies that further
explore and explain how the culture, history, and tradition of cities and universities
infl uence the activity and beliefs associated with the work of anchor institutions. By
improving our understanding of the basic conditions under which universities and
cities engage with one another, researchers can develop appropriate models and
approaches for explaining anchor institution behavior.
Additional research is also needed to better understand the conceptual complexi-
ties of anchor institution effects and relationships. Pinheiro et al. (
2012 ) built a
theoretical framework from case studies of European cities. They describe the key
M. Harris and K. Holley
areas of engagement between universities and cities to include technology transfer,
social services/continuing education, policy making, and cultural services/city life.
Florax ( 1992 ) , in a study of the regional impact of the University of Twente in the
Netherlands using linear regression models, delineates examples of areas of the
regional effects of a university. He identifi es politics, demography, economy, infra-
structure, culture, attractiveness, education, and social aspects. Similarly, Lambooy
( 1996 ) and later Pellenbarg ( 2005 ) describe categories of the demand and supply
effects of universities. Stokes and Coomes ( 1998 ) develop a typology of college
impacts, and emphasize that impacts of knowledge are relevant, in addition to tradi-
tional economic measures such as employment or government revenues. The litera-
ture reviewed by Stokes and Coombes ( 1998 ) shows that economic effects such as
university expenditures will be important predictors of economic growth in the
short run, but knowledge and human capital growth likely have greater long term
economic impacts for cities. This line of research is useful for understanding how
job market changes and human capital growth that occur because of higher educa-
tion’s infl uence and anchor institution role can improve a city’s economy.
Additional scholarly attention should consider how to better explain and predict
higher education’s infl uence on the fl ow of human capital. For example, the migra-
tion of students, faculty, and administrators may infl uence the impact of universities
on their surrounding locales (Drucker & Goldstein, 2007 ). Explaining higher educa-
tion’s infl uence on the movement of human capital within cities and across regions
would improve our knowledge of the spatial impacts of universities. Some studies
examine student migration patterns (Blackwell, Cobb, & Weinberg, 2002 ;
Felsenstein, 1995 ; Goldstein & Luger, 1992 ), but the research that exists on human
migration focuses largely on student migration and particularly infl ow (as student
enrollment data is readily accessible). For instance, Goldstein and Luger ( 1992 ) use
student and graduate data from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to
estimate the number of students employed in the region. Research about groups
other than students remains limited, but would provide a more comprehensive
understanding about how universities infl uence human capital in their cities and
8.23 Conceptual Frameworks
The economic theory of human capital has been the primary conceptual framework
embraced by scholars studying the impacts of anchor institutions and higher educa-
tion institutions on cities (Abel & Deitz, 2011a , 2011b ; Caragliu, Bo, & Nijkamp,
2011 ; Feser, 2003 ; Florida, 2002 ; Florida et al., 2006 ; Polese, 2009 ). Researchers
that use other frames typically rely on stakeholder theory (Jongbloed et al., 2008 ;
Russo et al., 2007 ) or other economic theories relying on spatial factors (Glaeser &
Gottlieb, 2009 ; Martin-Brelot et al., 2010 ; McLafferty & Preston, 1992 ; Oort, 2002 ).
However, these theories have limited ability to explain the specifi c actions of
stakeholders or institutions. Rather, the theoretical approaches utilized to study the
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
issues in this chapter are general theories that scholars apply to many organizations
or economic issues. We propose that more nuanced theories are necessary to address
the complexities involved with different universities serving as anchor institutions
with a variety of structures, processes, and missions.
Neo-institutional theory has been applied in research examining the relationships
and blurring boundaries between universities and industry (Lam, 2010 ). For exam-
ple, Baldini, Fini, Grimaldi, and Sobrero ( 2014 ) model university patent activity
framed by neo-institutional theory and fi nd that isomorphic behaviors constrained
university activities limiting the effectiveness of regulatory policies. Frameworks
from organizational sociology or the sociology of knowledge may be valuable for
better understanding how factors within the university such as faculty norms and
rewards may infl uence the ability of a university to serve as an anchor institution.
Sociological frameworks may be helpful in understanding the infl uence of power
and resistance largely missing from the current literature on higher education’s rela-
tionship with and impact on cities.
The economic theories used in the existing literature shed light on the economic
impacts of universities and suggest the potential of universities to serve as anchor
institutions. Future research built on sociological frameworks could complement
these studies by examining institutional responses and organizational activity in this
area. Studies using these additional frameworks could offer new and distinctive
explanations of the extent to which universities support the economic and social
development of cities.
8.24 Methodological Issues
In this section, we describe the major methodologies that can be used to examine the
role of higher education institutions as anchor institutions. More specifi cally, we
discuss the strengths and weakness of four methodological approaches that build on
the current research available: economic impact studies, longitudinal, comparative
case, and quasi-experimental studies. The limitation of any single-method creates a
challenge to approaching the complex questions inherent in investigating the holis-
tic impact of anchor institutions. In order to build on prior research to examine and
test the impacts of universities as anchor institutions, researchers should consider
the benefi ts of a variety of methodological approaches.
In addition to the specifi c methodologies below, researchers should consider the
different units of analysis needed to understand the role of universities as anchor
institutions. First, there is the larger and comprehensive analysis of the anchor insti-
tution as an organization. Typical outcomes that might be measured with the anchor
institution as the unit of analysis include income, the job market, or changes in
education level. Within the anchor institution and at a more micro level are out-
comes pertaining to the particular activities, programs, or initiative that an anchor
institution might engage in that impact the city. Examples of relevant outcomes at
M. Harris and K. Holley
this level might include impacts of service-learning programs or the infl uence of
arts programs on the cultural environment of a city.
Economic Impact Studies Scholars have utilized a number of different approaches
to measure the effectiveness of universities in driving economic development. Much
of the research in this area focuses on economic impact studies, that is, studies mea-
suring an increase in the economic activity of a region based on the presence of a
university. A sizeable number of economic impact studies are commissioned by
universities as a justifi cation for public funding (Drucker & Goldstein, 2007 ). Since
the seminal work of Caffrey and Isaacs ( 1971 ) in developing a method for studying
economic impact, most economic impact studies follow a similar approach analyz-
ing components such as impact on government revenues, income levels, and busi-
ness volume.
Several characteristics limit traditional economic impact studies. First, the meth-
odology fails to fully consider long-term economic impacts such as improved worker’s
skills or technology transfer (Elliott, Levin, & Meisel, 1988 ). In addition, economic
impact studies struggle to determine a causal link between university activities and
specifi c outcomes. For instance, an outcome such as a city’s level of technology
rms and activity depends on many external factors apart from the university.
While other quantitative approaches to measuring economic impact exist such as
benefi t-cost analysis, a lack of appropriate data or the impossibility of assigning
impacts to particular programs or institutions limits the approaches available to
researchers (Bessette, 2003 ). In response to these challenges, scholars have sought
to focus on qualitative data using information gained from interviews along with
administrative data (Feldman, 1994b ; Feldman & Desrochers, 2003 ; Glasson,
2003 ). As an example of this type of study, Keane and Allison ( 1999 ) use this meth-
odological approach to study higher education culture, how embedded a university
is in the region, and the quality of linkages between university and industry.
Despite the diffi culties with economic impact studies, the approach remains the
most common way to measure the local economic impact of higher education insti-
tutions (Stokes & Coomes, 1998 ). Given the popularity of this approach, research-
ers should continue to refi ne how to best conduct these studies to create better and
more reliable fi ndings. In particular, researchers can help develop a comprehensive
list of important variables and how these could be applied to different types of insti-
tutions (e.g., research versus teaching universities). Developing multiple criteria
could help future researchers undertaking these types of studies for specifi c institu-
tion reports or peer-reviewed scholarship.
Longitudinal Studies A type of observational research, longitudinal studies pres-
ent the opportunity to examine the long-term effects of higher education institutions
on their surrounding communities. To date, little research of this type exists regarding
anchor institutions although some researchers note that a single snapshot view of
institutional impact is not suffi cient (Friedman et al., 2013 ). Unique to longitudinal
studies is the benefi t of identifying patterns that determine or explain long-term
changes and impacts. Given that one of the key features of anchor institutions is
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
their continuing commitment to their surrounding communities (Taylor & Luter,
2013 ), longitudinal research designs allow researchers to examine the longer-term
impacts that the conceptual literature (Birch et al., 2013 ; McCuan, 2007 ; Taylor &
Luter, 2013 ) posits anchor institutions have on cities.
Comparative Case Studies A potentially useful design for understanding the
impact of anchor institutions on the social and economic development of cities is
comparative case studies. As a design that includes two or more parallel cases, this
approach can produce theoretical insights into how and why programmatic or policy
efforts succeed or fail to generate anticipated results (Merriam, 1998 ; Stake, 1994 ).
Much of the existing research on anchor institutions focuses on single site case stud-
ies (Benneworth & Hospers, 2007 ; Camden Higher Education and Health Care Task
Force, 2008 ; Cantor et al., 2013 ), which provide rich descriptions of a given setting.
Single case studies allow researchers to collect data on a variety of aspects of anchor
institutions and provide the most complete understanding of a particular university
or context (Drucker & Goldstein, 2007 ).
Yet, disadvantages to the single case approach exist, including the lack of explan-
atory potential that comparisons across multiple cases would offer. Comparative
case studies can be designed to shed light on the similarities and differences in how
anchor institutions impact and interact with their communities. For example,
Saxenian ( 1994 ) conducted comparison case studies of Route 128 and Silicon
Valley using ethnographic data to help explain the differences between the two
regions. This type of research design could aid in developing schema to understand
the comprehensive impact and implications of universities operating as anchor insti-
tutions. The theoretical and conceptual frameworks developed through this type of
qualitative analysis provide an essential base that can then be tested through quasi-
experimental designs.
Quasi-Experimental Given the implausibility of randomly assigning higher edu-
cation institutions to city-regions, quasi-experimental designs hold potential for
studying the impact of anchor institutions. This methodology has been used occa-
sionally in studies of regions and economic development (Drucker & Goldstein,
2007 ; Rogers & Tao, 2004 ). At its core, a quasi-experimental study allows for the
measurement of the impact of a particular “treatment” (a higher education anchor
institution) on some outcome of a city (Campbell, Stanely, & Gage, 1966 ). Before
utilizing statistical controls for any possible intervening factors, researchers attempt
to control for these factors by manipulating the sampling, time period, and study
population to minimize or maximize variation in factors to limit the probability of
omitted variable biases (Drucker & Goldstein, 2007 ). Although anchor institutions
are not randomly assigned, issues of validity are handled by statistically accounting
for non-random assignment (Isserman & Merrifi eld, 1982 ). The design uses proxies
for the counterfactual (comparison group) to identify the effects of the treatment.
Several of the studies noted earlier in this section include useful measures of
such constructs as economic growth, population changes, and tax revenue (Glaeser
& Gottlieb,
2009 ; Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, 2011 ; Serang et al., 2010 ).
M. Harris and K. Holley
Goldstein and Renault ( 2004 ) used a quasi-experimental design to estimate the
contributions of higher education institutions to economic development. They com-
pared growth rates of wages between 1969–1986 and 1986–1998 and concluded
that university entrepreneurial activities create more economic impact than other
university functions. The use of quasi-experimental designs presents advantages
over other types of research for considering the complex impacts of anchor institu-
tions. The design controls for many events happening simultaneously and allows for
the use of statistical tests for verifying the appropriateness of the control group.
8.25 Research Questions to Guide Future Studies
Guided by the theoretical and methodological issues outlined above, in this section
we offer research questions for future researchers to examine in order to improve
understanding of the relationship between higher education institutions and
8.26 What Are the Systemic Effects of the University
on the Economic and Social Development
of Large Metropolitan Cities?
As noted throughout this chapter, many authors (Birch et al., 2013 ; Goddard et al.,
2014 ; Taylor & Luter, 2013 ) extol the virtues of universities serving as anchor insti-
tutions to benefi t the economic and social development of cities. Despite these
claims, researchers need to better categorize what distinguishes a university acting
as an anchor institution from a university not playing this role. Are there qualitative
or quantitative differences between institutions serving this role and those that are
not? Additionally, as Taylor and Luter note, research does not suffi ciently defi ne
what makes an organization an anchor institution. While the research literature fre-
quently highlights the potential for universities to play this role in cities, scholarship
has not yet suffi ciently tested these claims empirically.
8.27 How Do Different University Programs
and Initiatives Impact Various Outcomes
in Large Metropolitan Cities?
While continued examination of specifi c programs and activities proves benefi cial
to the fi eld, it is also crucial that researchers provide a larger contextualization of
these efforts. Such an approach would consider the broader social, economic,
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
political, historical, and other environmental factors infl uencing the university’s role
as an anchor institution within a city. For example, Harkavy and Zuckerman ( 1999 )
study urban employment by anchor institutions to measurably demonstrate the
infl uence on a city’s economy. Additional research along these lines measuring and
classifying specifi c university effects can assist with clearly pinpointing how a uni-
versity impacts a city. Moreover, do the ways in which higher education institutions
infl uence a city differ based on the circumstances and characteristics of both the
university and city? For instance, do the types of businesses and population located
in the city as well as the level of research activity on a campus could infl uence how
major urban cities and universities interact? Research that explores how the prob-
lems facing large metropolitan cities infl uence the role of higher education may
provide a more nuanced and complete understanding of how the university serves as
an anchor institution as well as the short and long term impacts of the university on
large urban cities.
8.28 What Are the Factors and Policies That Foster
and Induce Urban Universities to Serve
as Anchor Institutions?
Policy studies can provide useful data on how to incentivize higher education insti-
tutions to serve as key anchor institutions in their communities. Scholars should
explore the ways various local, state, and federal policies and regulations infl uence
university activity supporting economic and social development. We know very
little about the policies enacted by large metropolitan cities that might infl uence
university behavior. Moreover, research has not considered possible policy inter-
ventions that cities might undertake to support or extend the infl uence of university
activities. For example, should cities provide direct support for university activities
known to create economic and social benefi t? Or, should cities provide property tax
abatements for university graduates to entice them to remain in the city? Can cities
provide funding for university cultural activities to support their development? How
can cities leverage a university’s reputation to improve their attractiveness to outside
businesses or individuals looking to relocate? These questions are just a small sam-
ple of policy interventions that cities could implement. Through related additional
research, scholars can inform the direction city leaders should take.
Understanding how municipal policy infl uences universities holds the potential
of connecting existing areas of research within the study of higher education. Many
researchers explore the effects of public policy at the state and federal levels on
outcomes related to college access and affordability (Heller, 2001 , 2002 ; Perna &
Titus, 2004 ). To expand the research base, researchers may apply existing analytic
techniques and theoretical approaches toward studies of local policy contexts.
Scholarship has not considered if studies from other policy contexts are applicable
M. Harris and K. Holley
to local settings. For instance, studies examining state policy changes on fi nancial
accessibility may be useful for cities looking to enact policies to support higher
education access. Additional research on local policies can demonstrate the value of
institutions serving as anchor institutions (Pinheiro et al., 2012 ). Higher education
researchers can also build on existing excitement for the potential of anchor institu-
tions and related ideas within the policy community. With the desire to promote
local economic and social development of cities, researchers may fi nd a receptive
audience among local policy makers seeking to improve their locales.
8.29 Can for-Profi t Higher Education Institutions Serve
as Anchor Institutions?
As large, locally embedded organizations that have an economic and civic self-
interest in their community, anchor institutions have the potential to serve vital roles
in city development. Some observers (Benson et al., 2007 ) suggest that for-profi t
businesses are by nature less committed to a place and should not be considered
anchors due to a lack of trust in their long term desire to stay in a location (Taylor
& Luter, 2013 ), although other scholars note that industries may be locally depen-
dent in ways that necessitate their permanent location in a city-region (Cox & Mair,
1988 ; Rosentraub, 2010 ). As one example, professional sporting teams have occa-
sionally moved from one city to another, but are commonly identifi ed with a specifi c
community. Older Americans might still consider the Dodgers baseball team to
have a Brooklyn connection, although the team moved to Los Angeles in 1957. Yet,
even long-term partnerships with the local community may not be enough for a for-
profi t organization to remain in a region (Anchor Institution Task Anchor Institution
Task Force, 2009 ). The complexity involved in how a largely placed-based organi-
zation decides to leave remains unclear. Additionally, the infl uence of corporate
status in decisions to move requires further research to better explain institutional
We suggest that scholars examine whether for-profi t higher education institu-
tions could serve as anchor institutions. Many will not likely have suffi cient size
within their locales, a necessary condition to have substantial infl uence over the
economic and social development of the city (Taylor & Luter, 2013 ). Scholars
should probe the degree to which for-profi t higher education believes in or engages
with a social justice mission also considered a frequent aspect of many anchor insti-
tutions. The scholarship on the economic impact of higher education focuses on the
non-profi t sector (Abel & Deitz, 2011b ; Anselin et al., 1997 ; Chatterton & Goddard,
2003 ; Porter, 2000 ; Stokes & Coomes, 1998 ). Studies examining the for-profi t sec-
tors infl uence could prove useful not only for understanding whether for-profi t
higher education can serve as an anchor institution, but also expand understanding
of the ways all higher education institutions impact the development of their cities.
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
8.30 What Role Can and Should Issues of Social Justice Play
in Considering the Work of Urban Universities
as Anchor Institutions?
The eld of higher education could benefi t from a deeper understanding of how
issues of race, class, and poverty infl uence the work of anchor institutions. Maurrasse
( 2001 ) and Hodges and Dubb ( 2012 ) argue that a social justice orientation is central
to the work of anchor institutions because of the ways this emphasis transforms a
university’s culture, values, and operations. However, studies that explore the inter-
play between race, class, poverty, and anchor institutions remain few (Webber &
Karlstrom, 2009 ). As noted from the review of the literature, two important ques-
tions remain unresolved by the research. First, how important is a social justice
mission for universities to serve as anchor institutions? Second, do universities have
a responsibility to serve as an anchor institution and as an advocate for social
Noted anchor institution researchers Ira Harkavy and colleagues (Benson et al.,
2007 ; Harkavy & Zuckerman, 1999 ) argue that higher education should focus on
issues of social responsibility. They believe that higher education institutions as
social organizations have a moral responsibility to support social justice in their
communities. However, other authors (Bok, 1982 ; Saltmarsh & Hartley, 2010 ) con-
tend that social justice may serve as a part of an institution’s mission, but this is not
a mandate.
To date, little research examines the views of institutional leaders or policy mak-
ers regarding the necessity of a larger social purpose for higher education. In addi-
tion, the fi eld lacks clear descriptions or categories of the extent to which universities
participate in a civic mission or impact social justice issues in their cities. For exam-
ple, the Carnegie Foundation created the Community Engagement designation in an
attempt to provide a vehicle for a broader classifi cation of higher education institu-
tions (Driscoll, 2008 , 2009 ). Yet, the categorization classifi cation is so broad that it
fails to consider the depth of activity or the centrality of civic engagement to a uni-
versity’s mission or purpose. Researchers can engage in single and comparative
case studies to help unpack how much serving a civic engagement role or social
justice mission motivates university activities. Interviews and ethnographic data
could provide information regarding the ways faculty and administrators view and
act on a civic or social justice orientation. Beyond case studies, scholars should
measure to what extent the impacts of a university serving as an anchor institution
differ based on the centrality of a civic mission. This line of research could help
determine if a service orientation is required for performance as an anchor institu-
tion or simply a component of the mission of some institutions.
M. Harris and K. Holley
8.31 Conclusion
In order to fully understand how universities serve as anchor institutions, higher
education scholars should consider factors, structures, and processes outside of
higher education. Researchers seeking to understand the role of higher education as
anchor institutions supporting large urban cities should consider the conceptual and
methodological issues that we raise in this chapter. We suggest that understanding
the behavior of universities as anchor institutions requires better understanding of
the complexity surrounding the broader political, economic, and social infl uences
in local, national, and international contexts. Specifi cally, higher education scholars
should consider the how global and local forces interact and infl uence the institu-
tional behavior and activity of universities.
Throughout history, the world’s great cities have been hubs of innovation and
creativity. From the earliest communities through modern day, cities have been built
by and for a great variety of societies. Additionally, universities prove to be inher-
ently stable organizations even during times of economic downturn. This stability
makes universities useful institutions around which to develop economic strategies;
city leaders can rely on the fi nancial steadiness of universities even during poor
economic situations (Goddard et al., 2014 ). Future research can help the fi eld better
understand the various ways large metropolitan cities and universities interact as
mitigated by history, context, and culture. This information will not only improve
practice and policy, but also expand the understanding of the role of universities in
supporting the social and economic development of cities.
Existing research demonstrates the power and potential of higher education to
help grow and develop major metropolitan city-regions (Abel & Deitz, 2011b ;
Anselin et al., 1997 ; Beck et al., 1995 ; Benneworth & Hospers, 2007 ; Chatterton &
Goddard, 2003 ; Elliott et al., 1988 ; Feldman, 1994b ; Pellenbarg, 2005 ; Stokes &
Coomes, 1998 ). The linkages between institutions and their communities run deep
and will likely continue to develop with the changes resulting from the knowledge
economy. The review of research in this chapter suggests universities have impacts
on their cities and hold potential value as anchor institutions, which warrant addi-
tional scholarship to better understand the ways universities and anchor institutions
may operate and support a city’s social and economic development. In particular, by
examining the infl uence of place and geography studies of the anchor institutions
could provide additional insights into the complex and major issues facing contem-
porary higher education including college completion, vocational training, innova-
tion, accountability, and funding.
Although there is considerable variation in the quality and confi dence in the
claims of the potential of universities to serve as anchor institutions, the majority of
the research suggests that universities have substantial impacts on their cities. The
complexity of city-university interactions presents theoretical and methodological
challenges that scholars will need to address in order to more fully develop our
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
understanding of these issues. The challenges and issues related to the local and
global trend of escalating urbanicity only increases the need to better understand
how cities and higher education interact. There is certainly suffi cient evidence of the
benefi ts of higher education to cities to warrant a sustained research agenda on the
economic and social impacts of universities serving as anchor institutions.
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M. Harris and K. Holley
Michael Harris is associate professor of higher education and Director of the Center for Teaching
Excellence at Southern Methodist University. His research focuses broadly on organizational and
policy implications of market forces on higher education. His recent publications examine institu-
tional diversity in American higher education as well as strategies for teaching effectiveness. He
holds a B.A. in history from the University of North Carolina, and a Master’s of Education and
Ed.D. in higher education administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Karri Holley is associate professor of higher education at The University of Alabama. She earned
her M.Ed. and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, and her B.A. from The University
of Alabama. Her research examines the organizational, cultural, and economic infl uences on the
structure and processes of the contemporary university, with a particular interest in graduate educa-
tion. She serves as editor of International Journal for Researcher Development . Her current proj-
ect examines the relationship between interdisciplinarity and innovation in the knowledge
8 Universities as Anchor Institutions: Economic and Social Potential for Urban…
... We selected community-minded, the secondmost selected value, as the basis for this secondary analysis because the initial analysis of data for institutional purposes revealed diverse and even paradoxical perspectives on how the university should approach its community engagement and development efforts; additionally, survey responses captured tensions that have existed between the institution and community in recent years. This study analyzed how stakeholder groups who selected community-minded rated Urban-serving institutions are anchor institutions, supporting social and economic growth through job creation, community and cultural development, and industry expansion (Davis & Walker, 2019;Friedman et al., 2014;Harris & Holley, 2016;Norris & Weiss, 2019;Taylor & Luter, 2013). Their complex mission involves a commitment to access, equitable student outcomes, diversity, and reciprocal engagement with the city and community in which they are located (Davis & Walker, 2019). ...
... Although the fulfillment of USRUs' complex mission requires the involvement of internal and external stakeholders, the research on who these groups include and how they interact is underdeveloped (Harris & Holley, 2016). Centering stakeholders' perspectives and ideas has proven critical to the success of community-university collaborations (Cantor et al., 2013), but diverse stakeholder involvement has also resulted in tensions at USRUs. ...
... USRUs' social and spatial contexts can also create tensions, and social issues can strain internal and external stakeholder relationships. For example, in seeking to ensure campus safety, institutional leaders may restrict community access to campus, and students' demand for offcampus housing can create conflict with local residents (Davis & Walker, 2019;Harris & Holley, 2016). Tensions also arise when institutions want to expand their boundaries. ...
... Anchor institutions range from public and private universities to large 'rooted' private sector organisations (The Work Foundation, 2010). Although there is no agreed-upon set of characteristics that define anchor institutions, Harris and Holley (2016) delineate four characteristics of spatial immobility, corporate status, institutional size, and institutional mission to define anchors, which we use in this paper. ...
... While this evidence illustrates the economic impact of anchor institutions, there is some debate about whether all anchor institutions possess a "social-purpose mission" (Harris and Holley, 2016); this is not specifically a requirement of anchor institutions (Taylor and Luter, 2013). The limited research on universities as anchors suggests that even if universities may not explicitly address how to implement a social mission in their communities, nearly every university has a social mission as part of its strategy. ...
This article outlines how a team of academics, professional staff and students from a Scottish University in the United Kingdom worked with voluntary sector partners to achieve civic and ‘social purpose’ goals, through setting up a project called The Collaborative. This is a reflective paper that draws on collaborative autoethnography and is written collarboratively by that team of academics, professional staff and students. We explore how universities can achieve their civic engagement goals by serving as anchor institutions, and we develop a conceptual framework for how anchor institutions can enact their institutional mission of ‘social purpose’. We uncover important considerations for university initiatives aiming to improve academic and student engagement with community partners for social change, with three learning points around building relationships, building capacity, and barriers to engagement. Service-learning can be used as a pathway to becoming a civic university, however, there are structural barriers that need to be overcome. This is an account of an ethical fact-finding project, reflecting on our experience of working with the local voluntary sector, designed to facilitate the University’s better engagement with such collaborative ‘social purpose’ ventures.
... Postsecondary education is more critical than ever for economic security and mobility as the employment prospects of individuals without a college degree continue to deteriorate (Ma et al., 2016). Employers' expectations of postsecondary attainment continue to grow (Harris & Holley, 2016). This "credentialism" has recently been framed as a key driver of student debt (e.g., Cottom, 2017;Morgan & Steinbaum, 2018) as it creates an imperative for investing in one's education even though such investments carry some risk: Students bear a growing share of education costs (Desrochers & Hurlburt, 2016) and rely heavily on student loans to finance them (Akers & Chingos, 2016). ...
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This paper studies the patterns of individuals’ student loan repayment for up to 12 years, tracking borrowers through the formative ages of the early 20s to the late 30s. Using social sequence and cluster analysis to understand these longitudinal repayment histories, we identify five archetypes of loan repayment that describe borrowers’ experiences: persistent defaulters, perpetual payers, rapid full payers, late full payers, and consolidators. We find significant stratification by race/ethnicity, social class, and institutional sector into repayment clusters, with minoritized borrowers and those attending for-profit institutions more likely to experience adverse borrowing outcomes and to experience them for longer.
... Using OG initiatives, local governments ensure the equity of access to all citizens in the formulation of public policies and the improvement of effectiveness by taking advantage of the knowledge and resources of citizens in strategic planning processes [67]. To achieve this aim, it requires new and creative ways for citizen engagement like data walkshops [49] or citizen participation through anchor institutions like universities [13,31,42,45], urban hospitals [30] or public libraries [37,63,110]. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced important challenges into public management models in all levels of public administrations, with special focus on the local government level due to both the impact of pandemics in the local space and the impact of public policies on the quality of life of the citizenry. The experience in facing this COVID-19 pandemic show the existence of conflicting interests not only regarding the inconsistency of the information disclosure, but also in the public policies taken to tackle the pandemic, which has produced ineffective measures against this epidemiological context. The emergence of new technologies has the potential to redesign more robust governance models using Open Government mechanisms to be more effective in the fight again health pandemic and disaster management, achieving more resilient cities. Putting the focus on this issue, this paper debates about the lessons learned from the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and raises some research questions to be solved by future research. Concretely, this paper advocates the need for the introduction of new aligned and collaborative governance models implementing emerging technologies embedded in Open Government projects as efficient mechanisms to achieve more collaborative and resilient smart cities.
... Literature concerning universities as anchor institutions is primarily orientated toward their impact on local economies (Comunian, Taylor, and Smith 2014), businesses (McCauley-Smith et al. 2020) and urban development and regeneration (Harris and Holley 2016). There is also a focus on universities upskilling local people and enhancing employment rates (Frenette 2009). ...
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In this paper, we connect literature on civic universities and anchor institutions with the notion of visibility to explore how universities can play more engaged roles in their areas. We introduce the concept of 'just anchors', which are institutions with strategies to achieve local social, economic and epistemic justice goals through collaboration in networks of other anchors and knowledge co-production with citizens. This paper is based on data from USE-IT!, an ERDF-funded programme that developed mechanisms to build social resilience in inner-city wards of Birmingham, the second-largest city in England. Our findings show that co-production empowers citizens, and that universities are well-placed to facilitate and benefit from the outputs of this process. Based on the experience of delivering a community researcher training scheme, we reflect on the potential of universities to be more visible to, and facilitate the visibility of, marginalised groups, introducing a new theoretical concept into the literature on universities as anchor institutions. We also draw further lessons from USE-IT! to offer practice-based recommendations to other universities seeking to activate their role as just anchors.
... Invariably, the focus in much of the literature has been on the economic usages of universities as city anchors and on their economic contribution to cities and regions. It is possible to list these contributions by way of summary of recent 'anchor' literature (see, e.g., Adams 2003;Ehlenz 2018;Goddard et al. 2014;Harris and Holley 2016; Penn Institute for Urban Research 2010). Universities, we can note first of all, are major employers by virtue of their scale and complexity, often among the largest employers in particular locations. ...
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Equality in the city is an aspiration. Cities have never been equal, equitable or fair. Now, optimum efficiency is celebrated as progress, and reconfigurations of urban spaces are focused on the clean lines of punctual service delivery. Smart cites are controlled cities, where data is the fuel that pumps through the heart. The common denominator in smart city rhetoric is the assumption that organization, planning and programmability will provide optimum conditions for comfortable urban life. Yet some aspects of our cities and our lives within them will never be machine-readable (Mattern 2014) and there may be a growing disparity between the natural and the constructed; the vagaries and messiness versus the program-mable and measurable life in cities. Giddens's theory of social structure suggested that spaces and buildings are what people do with them-spaces themselves structure social relations and practices, and therefore 'relations of power and discipline are inscribed into the apparently innocent spatiality of social life' (Soja 1989: 6). If urban life is to be smart, digital and codified, then what becomes of the varied human experiences and how can we consider their relation to power? How can this be married to digital futures? The smart city emerges from networked urbanism, propagated by the promises of efficiency, using technologies to deliver and manage services to city dwellers; embedded sensors, drone surveillance and real-time monitoring to give us more effective transportation, waste, security and energy systems. Within this discourse, people are sources of data that are fed into algorithms; their experience of the city is muted in favour of the foregrounding of digital efficiency. Much great work on the neo-liberal ideals that underpin smart discourse has already been done (Kitchin 2014; Mattern 2017; Cardullo et al. 2018; Kitchin et al. 2018; Cardullo and Kitchin 2019). The various essays in this collection consider the promises of the smart future and provide some new discussions and provocations, moving 2 EqUALITY IN THE CITY beyond the field of human geography and urban planning to a social, personal and egalitarian approach. By theorizing and interrogating various theoretical approaches to the promises of the smart city, we question how humans can feasibly have fair and equal access to those smart technologies that promise a better future. How can cities better support human life? What makes cities liveable in an era of growing urban inequality? While housing, service provision, health care, education and other important social needs are critical issues in imagining future cities, this collection looks more broadly at how we conceive of the city of the future and what sorts of steps can be taken to 'take back the city' in the digital future. Smart futures and smart urbanism are situated in a paternalistic ethos rather than focused on human rights, citizenship and fair access to digital technologies that ostensibly improve human life. Such technologies are changing the places in which we live and the way we live in them. They also impact on our ideas about how and where we might live in the future. There is a reverence for what is called 'disruptive technologies' and the way in which disruption is deemed not just ok, but excellent, when it comes to how we live, work and exist in spaces. Disparate fields such as human geography, information and communications technology (ICT), engineering and social sciences have addressed many of the debates around the forms of (digitized) governance that smart cities propose. Here, we bring together scholars from across disciplines to consider ideas of active participation in the imagined smart cities of the future. The essays consider the ruptures in smart discourse , the spaces where we might envisage a more user-friendly and bottom-up version of the smart future and imagine participation in novel ways.
... Typically, scholars describe "meds and eds, " or medical and educational organizations, as anchor institutions given their likelihood to be rooted in their communities. This long-term presence, even in the midst of community change, helps to stabilize local economies [1][2][3]. Given federal requirements for non-profit hospitals to benefit their communities in exchange for tax exemption, most case studies of anchor hospitals have focused on this subset of hospitals and their efforts to elevate population health through targeted employment, purchasing, and health promotion [4]. ...