Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Ketevan Mamiseishvili

Committee Member

G. David Gearhart

Second Committee Member

Suzanne McCray

Third Committee Member

Jeffrey Allen Murdock


Adaptation, Higher Education, Higher Music Education, Music Administration, Music Industry, Organizational Adaptation


Higher music education presents a unique opportunity to examine change within higher education due to the digital revolution in the music industry over the past two decades. The purpose for conducting this study was to describe, map, and explain the strategies that higher music education programs are using to adapt to the digital revolution in the music industry. This study was grounded in organizational adaptation theory, drawing upon nine well-established theories: population ecology, life cycles, strategic choice, isomorphism, symbolic action, resource dependence, cybernetics, and network theory. Critical concepts of the turbulent environment, environmental perception, and organizational adaptation strategy emerged from these theories. An organizational adaptation strategy typology consisting of five strategies; decentralization, generalization, specialization, formalization, and inaction; was additionally constructed to create a tool for the measurement and explanation of organizational behavior. Music leaders of accredited institutions and programs that grant four-year degrees (N = 570) were surveyed via email using a survey instrument I designed. This instrument contained 57 items created to measure environmental perception (EP), organizational adaptation strategy (OAS), and characteristics of the institutions and music leaders. Data were collected over a four-week period in February 2021 and produced a response rate of 18.4% (n = 100).

The most important result of this study was the observation that higher music education is undergoing a great generalization whereby organizational functions have dramatically expanded over the past five years. Furthermore, the environmental perception abilities of music units were found to be positively correlated with the total amount of organizational adaptation, indicating consistency with major tenants of organizational adaptation theory. These findings demonstrate that while expansionist trends in the field are promising for stakeholders, higher music education must navigate the many pressures of a turbulent music industry environment while balancing unique organizational constraints within higher education. Finally, this study provides empirical evidence for furthering theoretical concepts of organizational adaptation in higher education at the single-discipline level.