Competing institutional logics in the internationalisation of Australian universities
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 22:44 authored by Mark Tayar
This thesis examines the multiple orientations driving internationalisation processes at Australian universities. Internationalisation is seen to include export-related activities such as international student recruitment to Australia, course delivery in foreign countries by Australian universities through partnerships, as well as the incorporation of international dimensions to activities in Australia. To understand the orientations driving internationalisation processes, this thesis focuses on 'institutional logics' which are the underlying governing principles of a sector that strongly influence organisational decision-making (Thornton 2004). The changing orientations are investigated with a focus on how the orientations interact and how this interaction determines the degree and nature of internationalisation. This thesis draws from process theories of internationalisation developed by international business scholars and applies these theories to the orientations and activities of universities. Drawing from a critical realist ontology, this thesis presents findings from interviewdata. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with twenty-nine seniormanagers from thirteen Australian public universities. Interviewees were selected froma cross-section of universities and included managers in international offices, offshorebranch campuses and senior executives in university chancelleries. The findingsreveal that at least two institutional logics impact internationalisation decisions anddetermine the level of commitment to foreign markets. In particular, multipleinstitutional logics are found to compete, combine or co-exist and this determinespatterns of internationalisation with regard to entry modes and the scale of internationaloperations. The critical realist ontology proves useful in linking sets of institutional forces to strategic orientations and rationalities for action used by university managersand to turning points in university internationalisation. The contribution of this thesis is in finding two competing orientations of universityinternationalisation. One orientation is driven by the market leading to internationalpractices similar to those used by multinational corporations. The other orientation isdriven by academia leading to practices that aim to benefit particular communities ofstudents, scholars or broader society. A change in orientations is seen as primarily theresult of regulatory change which increases dependency on corporate logics. Theclash of orientations is found to be a central problem for senior international managerswho must choose an orientation or find a way to reconcile or contain multipleorientations. This is particularly problematic when there is an aim to achievecomprehensive or holistic internationalisation as market logics that were oncecompartmentalised in international operations need to be reconnected with the wholeuniversity. A further contribution of this thesis is in its exploration of institutional logicswithin a critical realist paradigm which may advance our theoretical understanding ofhow actors make decisions based on two or more contradictory orientations. Forpractitioners, this thesis helps to explain how competing forces influence currentstrategy and how to reach more comprehensive and coordinated forms ofinternationalisation.