How important is the local when thinking global? : Internationalisation at a research-led university

Willis, Ian and Tight, Malcolm and Parchoma, Gale (2010) How important is the local when thinking global? : Internationalisation at a research-led university. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis examines the importance of local factors associated with a research-led university’s move toward greater internationalisation. The study explores the university’s rationales for internationalisation along with forces acting to enable and constrain successful internationalisation. Attention is focused on the perceptions of individuals at different levels of the academic hierarchy. The study provides data that add local detail to national and sector surveys of internationalisation. The key data source is 16 semi-structured interviews with staff at the university including senior university leaders and academic staff. Additional information is derived from documents relating to the university’s internationalisation projects. All data are analysed from an insider-researcher position. The study’s findings suggest that local factors of place, tradition and individual agency are important items in shaping internationalisation endeavours. Personal and professional international experiences can create a positive approach for extending international activities within the university. This is offset by concerns about economically driven rationales and the privileging of international as opposed to locally based research. The conceptual framework locates the study within the multifaceted globalisation discourse and creates a structure for examining the significance of local factors, which tend to be overlooked in internationalisation research. Perceptions of internationalisation are analysed in a structure-agency framework. The discourse and metaphors employed are also examined. Similar universities are likely to follow similar paths in response to globalising forces and to pursue greater internationalisation, but their particular trajectories are likely to be coloured by local conditions. Whilst the specifics of this university’s local context may not be readily transferable, it is suggested that other universities would do well to attend to their own local context when thinking globally.

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Thesis (PhD)
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10 Jan 2013 15:19
Last Modified:
18 Dec 2023 00:52