Public-Private Partnership, Entrepreneurship Strategy, and Regional Economic Development: A Case Study


  • Julius H. Johnson, Jr. University of Missouri St. Louis


Higher Education, Public Universities, Private Partnerships


This exploratory study describes the entrepreneurship strategy and regional economic and value-added benefits of the public-private partnership of the University of Missouri-St. Louis ( UMSL), the region's public research university, with Express Scripts, Inc. (ES/) from 2005 through 2013. We interviewed twenty-eight stakeholders in the partnership using grounded theory. The emergent themes and regional economic and value-added benefits of the partnership and the strategic management implications have helped clarify the potential and natural fit of the entrepreneurship strategy and economic development mission for an urban university. The partnership cuts across all areas: the strategy of relocating the ES! corporate headquarters to the UMSL campus; the ES/ commercial real-estate development process elements, in which four buildings were built (two on campus and two next to campus); the student experience through internships and employment; the donor relationships, with gifts to UMSL reaching $150 million; and the faculty relationships as measured through research and class projects. ES/ has grown through strategic mergers and acquisitions during 2005-2013 to become the largest player in the pharmacy benefits manager industry with $93.9 billion in 2012 revenue.