Lauren A. Turner and A. J. Angulo explore how institutional theory can be applied to explain variance in higher education organizational strategies. Given strong regulatory, normative, and cultural-cognitive pressures to conform, they ask, why do some colleges engage in high-risk decision making? To answer this, they bring together classic and contemporary approaches to institutional theory and propose an integrated model for understanding outlier higher education strategies. The integrated model offers a heuristic for analyzing external and internal pressures that motivate colleges to implement nontraditional strategies. Through an analysis of recent trends among outlier colleges and their approaches to the Scholastic Aptitude Test, Turner and Angulo contextualize the model and consider its potential for understanding why higher education organizations adopt characteristics that differentiate them from their peers.

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