There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 10)

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.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 9)

Part 9: Increasing University Appeal.

Universities have a special role to play in the development of new methods and measuring instruments. The focus on providing students and society with a special tool kit which allows others to better evaluate, understand and cope with similarities and differences will be crucial. Important is also the selection of information that firms need to know. In an era where information overload replaces information scarcity, it must become the task of universities to enable others to maximize their learning with a paucity of materials.

Universities need to demonstrate the benefits they can offer. When one considers the expansion and influence of the Roman Empire, it turns out that force played only a small role. Rather, by offering market places, roads, language, laws, and linkages, the Romans provided efficiency, safety, consistency, communication and insights within their realm.  Outsiders then were not forced to join, but did so because affiliation offered the opportunity to live a better life. Universities need to achieve such voluntary interest as well. Given their knowledge base, their human talent and their cross-disciplinary capabilities, universities need to make the cost of non-collaboration unreasonably high to firms, so that they become a sought after source and partner.

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 8 here.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 8)

Part 8: Making Universities Visibly Relevant To Business.

Simon Marginson, in his article “Dynamics of national and global competition in higher education,” stated that parallel to the organizational internationalization, university competitiveness is defined internationally by research capacity, output and quality. Hugo Horta concurs, claiming in his article “Global and national prominent universities: internationalization, competitiveness and the role of the State” that local rankings are strongly based on research and exposition of institutional insights about international issues. As such, according to Anne Chapman and Davis Pyvis in their article “Quality, identity and practice in offshore university programmes: issues in the internationalization of Australian higher education,” internationalization remains often an instrument of status for both students and faculty.

Nelly P Stromquist wrote in “Internationalization as a response to globalization: Radical shifts in university environments” that given the rising competition emanating from globalization, there is also a growing emphasis on market forces in the process of educational decision-making. It therefore becomes imperative that universities offer content in their research and teaching which provides the kind of knowledge that is attractive to and supported by corporate activity. The work needs to consider the ‘problem hot spots’ of firms and society mentioned earlier, and by explicitly accepting firms as stakeholders who need and deserve the benefit of international networks and multidisciplinarity.

The authors of The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World contend that businesses and universities jointly need to consider the overlaps of system interests and the need to collaborate with the goal of long-term security for their future. Their time horizons differ substantially, where companies are focused on the short term while faculty tends to look far more down the road, according to Ben Schiller’s article “Academia strives for relevance” in the Financial Times, yet there could be a compromise with an emphasis at eventual relevance. Might someday a business executive even participate in the ‘peer review’ of an academic business article?

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 7 here.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 7)

Part 7: Grand Solutions – Internationalizing Higher Education.

International partnerships often continue to be intriguing wallpaper for a university president’s office. C.B. Klasek, in a 1992 U.S. Department of Education publication titled Bridges to the Future: Strategies for Internationalizing Higher Education, stated “[the rector of one major university] called a group or representatives from European and U.S. universities attending centenary ceremonies, into his office and would not let them leave until each had signed a linkage agreement. None of the agreements signed was ever implemented”.

International higher education remains mainly confined to analysis within educational research rather than stimulating minds in the fields of economics and business administration. University implementation of international strategy therefore remains typically at the level equivalent to international business activities by smaller and medium sized businesses: limited, ad-hoc, unsystematic and often inconsistent.

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 6 here.


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.