A new look at shared governance : prisoner's dilemma or ultimatum game?.

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts


I apply game theory to the problem of shared governance at a financially challenged liberal arts institution. I use the Annapolis Group's definition of a liberal arts institution. I also analyze the first year enrollment between fall 2007 and fall 2013, to show that there are enrollment problems for a subset of the Annapolis Group. The specific application of game theory is whether or not to eliminate a Classics program, which is assumed by the faculty to be central to the liberal arts mission, but does not attract specific student demand to cover the cost of the program. The two main assumptions of the thesis are: i) the faculty makes decisions based on whether or not the program up for eliminate is central to the institutions mission and ii) the administration makes their decision based of financial sustainability. Relationships between faculty and administrators are important, but presumed secondary. A contribution of the thesis is a visual representation of the simultaneous game that indicates the inflection point between choosing to eliminate or not. The sequential game shows the importance of first movers, but raises the question of what is a first mover. The final sequential game with assurances illustrates that using the strict neo-classical economic paradigm leads to undesirable outcomes. However, creditable commitments can lead to cooperation. Future research will focus on specific mechanisms to foster credibility and trust between the faculty and the administration.