The conceptual framework applied in the marketing model was based on a number of perspectives that together provide a general theoretical basis for Diversity Education Units standards and classifications. One perspective is the model must address any and all higher education institutions and not concentrate on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Native American Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU). While the initial study was designed as a method to increase student retention and new student enrollment for HBCU and TCUs, it quickly became apparent student retention and new student enrollment was a global problem that required a global solution.
The point of departure from an established marketing model of relationship was that processing knowledge is the general characteristic of higher education institutions (Clark 1983; Becher and Kogan 1992). This processing of knowledge can entail the discovery of new knowledge through research and transfer the results to parties outside the higher education institutions in a knowledge exchange or to various groups of learners through education or information literacy. A focus on the general purposes of higher education institutions has been viewed as the three functions of teaching and learning, research and knowledge exchange are a simplification of the world of higher education in a global economy but it does encompass the wide range of activities higher education institutions are involved in. The term processing points to the second main conceptual perspective that was used, namely the major stages in any process of creation or production: input; throughput and output. During the development of the marketing model it became clear the standards and classifications of Diversity Education Units (DEU) should not focus on performance but on activities and levels of involvement of the higher education institution as measured by indicators of inputs, processes and outputs.
The standards and classification of diversity education units therefore should focus on the volumes of different activities and not on the outcomes, impacts and quality of those activities.