My research agenda focuses on understanding the behaviors of colleges and universities and, in particular, how they engage with and respond to their environments. This work, allows me to evaluate how different factors (e.g., governance, external environments, and stakeholders) influence the behaviors of colleges and universities, and how in turn these behaviors shape the research and educational outputs, financial health, and organizational stratification of colleges and universities. As a whole, my research agenda allows me to shed light on the changing nature of higher education since the 1970s and to refine our existing understandings of financial, governance and intellectual behaviors of higher education organizations.

I am currently engaged in a number of research projects focused on different aspects of higher education. For example, I am currently engaging in research that explores the roles of trustees and administrators in shaping the institutional policies and practices of colleges and universities. Other research focuses on the changing academic structures and organizational health of colleges and universities and how these are shaped by changing environmental and institutional factors. All of my research is grounded in organizational theory and the sociology of higher education and seeks to understand variation in how these complex institutions engage with and respond to their environments.


McClure, K., Barringer, S. N., & Brown, J. (forthcoming) “Privatization as the “new normal” in higher education: Synthesizing literature and reinvigorating research through a multi-level framework.” Higher Education Handbook for Theory and Research.

Barringer, S. N., Taylor, B. J., and Slaughter, S. (2019) “Trustees in turbulent times: External affiliations and stratification among US research universities, 1975-2015.” The Journal of Higher Education. (Link)

Leahey, E., Barringer, S. N., & Ring-Ramirez, M. (2019) “Universities’ structural commitment to interdisciplinary research.” Scientometrics.118(3): 891-919. (Link)

Barringer, S. N. & Jaquette, O. (2018) “The Moving Missions of Community Colleges: An Examination of Degree Granting Profiles Over Time.” Community College Review. (Link)

Taylor, B. J., Barringer, S. N., & Warshaw, J. B. (2018) “Affiliated Nonprofit Organizations: Strategic action and research universities.” The Journal of Higher Education. 89(4): 422-452. (Link)

Barringer, S. N. & Riffe, K. A. (2018) “Not just figureheads: Trustees as Microfoundations of higher education institutions” Innovative Higher Education. 43(3): 155-170. (Link)

Barringer, S. N. (2016). The changing finances of public higher education organizations: Diversity, change and discontinuity. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 46, 223-263. (Link)

Barringer, S. N., & Slaughter, S. (2016). University trustees and the entrepreneurial university: Inner circles, interlocks, and exchanges. In S. Slaughter & B. J. Taylor (Eds.), Higher Education, Stratification, and Workforce Development: Competitive Advantage in Europe, the US, and Canada (pp. 151-171): Springer. (Link)

Slaughter, S., Thomas, S. L., Johnson, D., & Barringer, S. N. (2014). Institutional conflict of interest: The role of interlocking directorates in the scientific relationships between universities and the corporate sector. The Journal of Higher Education, 85(1), 1-35. (PDF)

Barringer, S. N., Eliason, S. R., & Leahey, E. (2013). A history of causal analysis in the social sciences. In S. L. Morgan (Ed.), Handbook of Causal Analysis for Social Research (pp. 9-26). New York: Springer. (Link)

Galaskiewicz, J., & Barringer, S. N. (2012). Social enterprises and social categories. In B. Gidron & Y. Hasenfeld (Eds.), Social Enterprises: An Organizational Perspective (pp. 47-70). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. (PDF)