Research

Dr. Gumport’s academic publications include seven books. Her most recent books include: Academic Fault Lines (2019), Sociology of Higher Education (2007), and Academic Pathfinders (2002). She has also published 60 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and commissioned reports.

As a sociologist of higher education, Dr. Gumport has focused her research and teaching on key changes in the academic landscape and organizational character of American higher education. She has studied the dynamics of academic change in several arenas – illuminating what facilitates change and what impedes it – across and within different types of colleges and universities. Driven by an abiding interest in knowledge change, Dr. Gumport has analyzed how organizational, intellectual, political, economic, and professional interests redefine the content, structure, and relative legitimacy of academic fields. Specific studies include: the emergence and institutionalization of interdisciplinary fields; professional socialization across academic disciplines; organizational restructuring and selective investment; the ascendance of industry logic in public higher education; forces that promote and inhibit academic collaboration; decision-making about appropriate organizational forms to support new ideas; and leading organizational change for optimal effectiveness with internal and external stakeholders. Her research within the United States and Europe examines how universities that are ostensibly competitors determine when and how to collaborate. Her analyses provide insights for faculty and administrators who lead change, pursue strategic initiatives, manage environmental pressures and stakeholder interests, and seek leadership development resources.

Recent Books

Academic Fault Lines (2019) analyzes the ascendance of industry logic over the last quarter of the 20th century: the explicit expectations throughout public higher education to become more efficient and accountable, to demonstrate contributions to state economies, and to develop more and deeper ties with industry. These expectations contrast with longstanding imperatives to prioritize the societal functions of expanding access and diversity, maintaining comprehensive educational offerings, and fostering democratic civic responsibilities. Framed in sociological theory, the findings in the study are grounded in case studies of research universities, comprehensive state universities, and community colleges, illuminating their transformation during the last quarter of the 20th century. The book analyzes how organizational restructuring aligned with political, economic, and technological changes to yield some notable gains, yet also profoundly intensified tensions among divergent beliefs as to what a public college or university should be and do, as well as how it should be organized and managed for legitimacy. In this comprehensive historical study, rich qualitative data and conclusions deepen our understanding of perennial challenges throughout higher education as well as those faced by contemporary decision-makers in a wide range of campus settings. The accessible study seeks to inform and inspire reflection among administrators and faculty as well as public system and state policymakers. The book, including its supplementary online materials, will be of interest to scholars of higher education for its theoretical framing, empirical grounding, and profound implications.

Sociology of Higher Education (2007) stands as the first book to trace the development of this vibrant field of study, identifying the factors that have contributed to the evolution of this field along major lines of inquiry.

Academic Pathfinders (2002) examines the emergence of feminist scholarship to identify the conditions in which new knowledge is created and becomes institutionalized. This work brings to light how colleges and universities deliberate over appropriate organizational forms for new and cross-disciplinary ideas.