This paper analyses managing higher education institutions in emerging economies. The paper investigates the case of postgraduate studies development at public universities. In so doing, it adopts the complex theory approach to evaluate how postgraduate studies have evolved in these countries. The investigation suggests that the postgraduate studies sector at public universities can be seen as a complex adaptive system (CAS). Therefore, the paper adopts system dynamics (SD) methods to develop this analysis. The case of postgraduate studies at Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo in Mexico is investigated in this paper.