Presentation 1

Making sense of higher education ‘internationalisation’: An inquiry into how the economic and political pressures from mounting competition and global recession in 2009 affected actor’s sensemaking at one university in England

Ms Marilyn Brookes, M.C.Brookes@bath.ac.uk
ICHEM, School of Management, University of Bath

Building on literature of internationalisation and higher education management, this PhD work is an attempt to understand the impact of internationalisation on institutional management – specifically the impact of mounting competition within the internationalisation agenda 1

The work investigates the ongoing process of sense-making (Weick, 1995) through a micro-ethnographic ‘shadowing’ (Czarniawska 2007) of those responsible for leading the internationalisation agenda within three universities in England and California.  The focus is specifically on the interaction between sense-giving and sensemaking (Gioia and Chittipeddi 1991) and this focus is the lens for analysing micro-processes through a story telling approach (Brown et al 2009:327).

These data were collected within the latter three months of 2009 – in the midst of a significant global economic decline – and this micro-level analysis attempts to help us better understand actor’s sensemaking processes whilst undergoing pressures associated with organisational uncertainty and change.  The presentation offers findings from one of the institutions.
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1 A modern phenomenon – competition within higher education – referring to
sustainability via economic growth and competitiveness, i.e. concern for the
labour market, financial incentives and income generation.  Additionally,
competition includes international branding and positioning, strategic
alliances, knowledge production and knowledge transfer and is defined within this work as being specifically market-led.

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