Part 10: Universities and Internationalization.
30 years ago, the essentials of communication were one of the main problems that CEOs had to face in their efforts with internationalization. New information technologies have brought progress leading to a substantial reduction in the transaction costs in international business. These changes in technology have been further helped by the establishment of English as the lingua franca in business and science in nearly every country in the world. This greater ease of communication already supports processes within universities through greater access to and transparency of findings.
Just like with cable television, however, it’s not just availability but content which is of major importance to the creation of value. In developing content, universities should concentrate on specific aspects in which to become multidisciplinary experts. Specialization has worked for firms, and will also provide benefits to higher education by allowing universities to provide more value added to society. It will also be important to provide the connectivity between business, research and policy. In the longer term, economic considerations or even profits by themselves are not sufficiently enticing for society to prosper. Religion, family, culture, security and many other concerns are taken into account by voters and governments. Universities are the ones who can incorporate these multiple concerns into a systemic perspective, and thus set their thinking apart from others. They can also serve as the foundation for multilateral approaches. By doing so, universities can become the transmission belt for the internationalization of their economy.
Universities can also track international developments of knowledge, and attract or repatriate scientists from abroad as resources. Just as a soccer club attracts top level players to move into the higher league, universities can bring in international researchers to develop or fortify a strategically isolated position.
Others need to assist universities to achieve a more prominent role in international business. Firms and government need to recognize their stakeholder positions and be supportive with information, network development and funding. It will be helpful, for example, for governments to facilitate the granting of visas, the recognition of qualifications, and the issuance of residency and work permits.
Most important for all players, once they have recognized the urgent need to collaborate, will be the formation of a university memory. It would be a terrible waste to have to re-learn internationalization for every new generation of faculty members. Considering the universe is the core mission of universities. Their work on the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge about the world will let them play the societal role they deserve.
This post is the last in a series by Michael Czinkota of Georgetown University and Andreas Pinkwart of Handelshochschule Leipzig on international business research and the new role of universities. Find Part 9 here.