Understanding the meaning of human capital and human capital investment in institutions of higher education
Iarrobino, Jon Derek
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This dissertation is a qualitative and quantitative research effort aiming to establish the meaning of, and the form(s) that human capital and human capital investment, traditionally business-oriented concepts, take in an institution of higher education. The literature review provides an extensive background of human capital and human capital investment theory and theorists. It presents a case study completed at a small college combining interviews, survey administration, and analysis to formulate hypotheses about the nature of human capital investment in institutions of higher learning. The interviews provided rich data through specific examples of how employees at the college defined human capital investment. Analysis of the interviews resulted in the formation of six human capital dimensions, one dimension unique to higher education institutions. A preliminary human capital investment survey was created and quantitative measures were able to discriminate one interpretable factor, similar to one dimension created from the interviews. The factor encompassed items that were related to the moral involvement (Etzioni, 1961) of the employees. This lead the researcher to believe that human capital investment in this higher education institution is different than in corporations. Further research is encouraged to validate this hypothesis and to continue to promote discussions about human capital investment in institutions of higher education.
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