There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 6)

Part 6: Grand Solutions – Embedding Universities Globally.

Historically speaking, university processes have a good international track record. Early on, universities exported and imported by either admitting international students or sending theirs abroad. They attracted international students and faculty members, the latter often permanently. By using Latin as the ‘lingua franca’ outward exchanges of personnel were facilitated. New locations were sought out, sometimes for purposes of expansion, at other times as a means to escape poor and worsening conditions. International partnerships were frequent. For example, Robert E. Curran, in his 1993 exposition of Georgetown University’s history, states that Georgetown University, a Jesuit school in Washington D.C., was left in legal limbo once pope Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuit order. However, due to collaborative work with Jesuits in Byelorussia, the order continued to be recognized by Czarina Katherine the Great. For several decades, the Georgetown staff became members of the Russian Province.

In spite of these manifold international activities, universities have typically not translated their experience into an institutional strategy. Exchange programs often do not outlive their faculty founders and international hiring decisions are mostly made on an ad-hoc basis – though some organizations such as the ETH in Zuerich, according to Hugo Horta in Higher Education, have incorporated international faculty and students into their strategic planning. Research collaborations tend to be temporary and international investments have been very limited – be it due to budget or risk constraints.

Sheila Slaughter and Larry Leslie state in Academic Capitalism: Politics, Policies and the Entrepreneurial University that since the 1980’s globalization has moved university activities towards the market, resulting in academic capitalism. Though universities are the prototype of knowledge institutions, there is only a very limited body of internationalization research. Experience is insufficiently recorded and remembered. Insights tend to be peer reviewed based on academic and methodological criteria, rather than incorporation the view of a constituency. In consequence, according to Nelly P. Stromquist in Higher Education, the knowledge and guideposts on internationalization is thin, and constitutes for many universities a search for student markets or respect among colleagues, rather than positioning their knowledge base as a global service offering.

This post is part of 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 5 here.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 5)

Part 5: Grand Solutions – Universities and Internationalization.

Traditionally, internationalization within universities was a bottom-up activity. It occurred due to personal connections by an individual faculty members or by research teams. Increasingly, however, universities grow internationally as part of a strategic approach executed as a top-down activity driven by institutional directives.

Several key reasons account for this shift in internationalization: A scientific approach demands awareness of and interaction with international work in order to benchmark one’s own work as to its competence. Internationalization is also part of becoming a competitive enterprise and ensuring capacity utilization. As part of their mission, universities also need to provide social infrastructure and networks for their graduates.

Universities are pioneers of the information revolution. In the 21st Century, they can assume new roles as incubators and connectivity nodes for new ideas and innovations. They are undergoing fundamental change due to new technologies, tighter budgets, increased complexity and growing global competition.

Yet so far, universities have responded only to a limited extent organizationally in a systematic fashion to globalization opportunities and threats. Firms, for example, have long ago differentiated their activities into investments, imports and exports. Companies, though also slowed down by inertia, shift entry approaches dependent on market needs. To some markets they export. Global sourcing and offshoring is used in others. Firms participate in markets through franchising or licensing and often recruit their staff from around the globe. They make investments, either as sole owners or in joint ventures, and shift venues whenever necessary.

This post is part of 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 4 here.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 4)

Part 4: New Challenges for Universities.

In the past thirty years, competition, information technology, and the porousness of barriers to trade and investment around the globe, have significantly changed the transaction costs and spheres of influence by and on individual companies. However, not only the conditions for individual companies have been changed. Universities have also been exposed to profound changes in their constituency, participation in society, and resource requirements.

At first glance, today’s universities differ little from their predecessors. There are still students and professors, reading books and manuscripts, in classrooms designed for frontal communications. Yet, in recent decades, dramatic changes have occurred behind impressive facades. The extent of change is largely underestimated and its future implications are not even remotely known. Today, globalization and the information revolution precipitate profound changes in the structure, capabilities and functions of universities. Just consider the latest innovations in teaching by MIT and other universities which, through massive open online courses (MOOCs) deliver their content around the world, and often do so for free.

Electronic media have shaped education and innovation into pillars of democratization. The third leg of the tripod providing stability consists of the rise of new informal relationships which convert exclusivity into participatory inclusiveness. Wikipedia statements shaped by many eager participants replace the decisions by the greying editors of the Oxford dictionary not necessarily for the worst. Informal learning replaces the uniqueness of institutional learning. Networks substitute for formal classrooms, and external knowledge rivals the importance of internal knowledge. As the Institute for International Education stated in its 2010 Open Doors report, the growing mobility of students and faculty also contributes to increased relationships, knowledge exchange and informality.

Throughout all these shifts, universities continue to rank among the oldest and most successful institutions in human history. Many countries have recognized the key relevance of the education sector for sustainable growth and broad based prosperity, though the transformational role of academic influence is often feared but not yet fully understood. Countries devote financial and political attention to the establishment and development of universities. Traditional knowledge exporters, such as the United States, Germany, France and England, strengthen their efforts to maintain a high share in the dynamically growing international academic market. These traditional exporters, according to a 2007 World Bank report by Sajitha Bashir, also recognize the economic benefits of bestowing internationally recognized qualifications on future decision-makers about infrastructure, engineering and economic acquisitions.

This post is part of 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 3 here.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 2)

Part 2: The Grand Challenges of a Global World.

If in the future International Business research receives more attention from business leaders who aspire greater international growth for their company than from other CEOs, both firms and universities will win. Managers will be more aware of the systemic challenges they are about to face in a world of increasing uncertainty. They will also receive more advice on their implementation of expansion and competitive strategies.

Instead of one big and divisive risk, a number of new smaller risks have emerged, which can result in considerable problems for the global stability of markets. The simultaneous occurrence of risks can magnify their impact, and poor management can then further exacerbate their danger.

New risk conditions increase the pressures on strategic planning and management capabilities. To identify opportunities and to react to crises earlier, a deeper knowledge of the local conditions is necessary. Also needed is open, dynamic corporate leadership, which responds sensitively and flexibly to changing or new conditions. It is significant that the most pressing future issues rated by CEOs are international capabilities that are outside of traditional academic subjects and disciplines.

CEOs are looking for help in coping with emerging problem areas, such as trade barriers (tariffs / quotas / standards), cultural shifts,  governmental bureaucracy, and corruption and political uncertainty. They require solutions by scientists with a multidisciplinary orientation, who can bridge various fields of business with innovative approaches incorporating policy, law and language, culture and religion, geography, and geology.

This post is part of 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 1 here

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 1)

Part 1: An Introduction.

In an article entitled “Head in the Clouds or Feet on the Ground? CEO Perspectives and the IB Research Agenda,” in the Thunderbird International Business Review, William Pendergast and J. Michael Geringer juxtapose the need for more theory with the requirement for immediate and direct benefits of international business education. Concurrently, they address the linkage between business and academia and demonstrate with help of data the changes which have occurred since an earlier study of these topics by David A. Ricks and Michael Czinkota in their article “International Business: An Examination of the Corporate Viewpoint” in the Journal of International Business Studies.

Particularly perturbing though is the continuity in findings regarding the very limited high esteem in which CEOs hold academic international business research and the contributions of past work. While the corporate world clearly has objectives and missions quite different from academia, Pendergast and Geringer rightfully postulate “that there may be a current window of opportunity to capture a constituency among those companies that anticipate a significant increase in their international activity.”

Universities must capture support constituencies if they are to survive. Though higher education has special attributes which sets it apart from profane competition, there is, in an era of scarce resources, an ongoing, crucial competition for resources which fully encompasses the tertiary education sector. Unless universities present offerings which are attractive or at least somewhat interesting to warrant direct or indirect economic support, they will suffer from a depletion of resources.

In the next few days we will explore ways to incorporate new perspectives of the interaction between universities, society and corporations – addressing how either group needs to learn from the others.

This post is part of a series by Michael Czinkota of Georgetown University and Andreas Pinkwart of Handelshochschule Leipzig on international business research and the new role of universities.