Anotated Bibliography: Phases of OBF Research

Since 2014, researchers have given considerable attention to examining the impacts of Outcomes-Based Funding (OBF) policies. Over time, OBF effectiveness research has evolved to reflect changing definitions of performance funding/outcomes-based funding policies themselves, as well as more nuanced information about how these policies vary in both design and implementation. Overall, extant literature can be grouped into the following three phases:


  • Phase I studies examine the average effects of performance funding models and how length of implementation interacts with effects. During this initial phase, researchers do not distinguish between different types of performance funding.  They do examine whether length of implementation affects impact (Tandberg and Hillman, 2014; Tandberg, Hillman, and Barakat, 2014).

  • Phase II studies distinguish between outcomes-based funding models and account for delayed implementation. In this phase, researchers differentiate the effects across two primary iterations of funding models – early performance funding and newer, performance/outcomes-based models (Rutherford and Rabovsky, 2014). In addition, researchers consider the period between policy adoption and policy implementation when examining emerging outcomes (Tandberg, Hillman, and Gross, 2014; Hillman, Tandberg, and Fryar, 2015; Callahan et al., 2017a, 2017b; Hillman, Fryar, and Crespín-Trujillo, 2017);

  • Phase III studies recognize more nuanced variation among models. In addition to advances made in Phase II research, Phase III research recognizes the differences in performance metrics across policies and begins to make efforts to address and study these variations (Kelchen, 2018; Li, 2018; Li & Kennedy, 2018).

Our annotated bibliography provides overviews of 25 articles and two books that assess the impacts and effects of OBF on several types of outcomes.  Literature is presented in two groups:


  1. The Impact of OBF on Credentials. This section offers an overview of literature published since 2014 on the impacts of Outcomes-Based Funding (OBF) policies on credential production and attainment.

  2. Effects of OBF on other Outcomes. This section includes two tables. The first summarizes literature that examines the effects of OBF on non-credential outcomes such as changes in enrollment and institutional policies and practice. The second table summarizes two preeminent publications on outcomes-based funding and identifies key topics covered by the authors.