Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea L. Beach

Second Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves

Third Advisor

Dr. Betty J. Simkins


Enterprise risk management, ERM, risk maturity, colleges and universities, shared governance, higher education


The variety, type and volume of risks affecting higher education are numerous and the consequences for unmanaged risks and missed opportunities are more significant than ever before. In response, many institutions of higher education are adopting an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) approach. External factors, as well as institutional culture, play a role in the decision to adopt ERM, as well as the path of implementation. Because higher education has unique characteristics that differentiate it from other organizations, particularly a shared governance structure, the adoption and implementation decisions, and resulting ERM frameworks, have aspects that make them unique to the higher education environment. While adoption of ERM is increasingly widespread, empirical research is limited, particularly in the higher education sector.

The purpose of this constructivist grounded theory mixed methods study was to understand decision-making and administration processes regarding the adoption, implementation, and integration of ERM at institutions of higher education (IHE) in the United States (U.S.) from the point of view of administrators with ERM responsibility and oversight and to build theory of ERM implementation in the higher education sector to be used by researchers and practitioners.

Results reveal that IHEs adopt ERM either as a proactive initiative by the board or president or in response to a sentinel event (or a combination). ERM implementation activities move through four levels (forming, developing, established, and integrated), not in a linear progression, rather in deepening phases organized around the academic year. The process of dialogue across institutional silos in the decentralized college and university environment may have equal benefit to the identification, evaluation, and mitigation of risks. While most administrators regard ERM as essential for achieving the institution’s objectives, practitioners articulate that most faculty do not. This study opens up many other areas for research regarding particular aspects of ERM in higher education and also provides practical ideas and models for administrators tasked with adopting, implementing, and integrating ERM on their campus.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access