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DO STAKEHOLDERS MATTER? A STRUCTURAL EQUATION MODEL FOR EXPLAINING STAKEHOLDERS’ EFFECTS ON HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS’ INTERNATIONALIZATION

R. Castro, M.J. Pires Rosa, C. Pinho

University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
Internationalization has been one of the most discussed topics in higher education literature in the last decades, mainly because it brings academic, economic, and sociocultural benefits to higher education institutions (HEI).At the core of this phenomenon are the interests and expectations of different higher education stakeholders, which may differ according to their institutional roles or to the economic/socio-cultural context of their higher education systems (De Wit, 2002; Knight,; 2004). Indeed, the idea that stakeholders do influence higher education internationalization finds support in both the stakeholder’s theory and the higher education governance literature.

Following this line of reasoning, this paper aims at contributing to a better understanding of the role higher education stakeholders play for higher education institutions’ (HEI) internationalisation. Our contribution is based on a quantitative analysis of the perceptions of HEI’s international offices managers on different stakeholders’ importance and influence regarding internationalization development, including the rationales for internationalisation, strategies to set it up and the benefits obtained from it. Data was collected through a questionnaire sent to the managers of the international offices of HEI in Portugal, Brazil and The Netherlands and was quantitatively analysed based on the assumptions of a descriptive-correlational research. Moreover, a structural equation model was estimated to explain stakeholders’ importance effects on HEI internationalisation.

The obtained empirical model allowed to confirm the Knight & De Wit (1995) framework and to establish that the more the HEI’s international offices perceive the stakeholders as having an important role in HEI internationalization, the more important they think the proposed rationales for internationalization (internationalization’s goals) are, the more developed they perceive their institutions’ strategies for internationalization (internationalization’s ways) are, and the more they think the suggested benefits from internationalization are being accomplished (internationalization’s ends).

It is expected that the discussion undertaken in this paper will inform higher education managers’ and administrators’ decision making and management practices at this level. Specifically, and taken into account this study’s main results, it is important that managers and administrators in HEI promote a positive view on the relevance of their stakeholders (internal and external) for internationalization, since the higher the perceived importance of stakeholders for higher education internationalization, the higher the benefits resulting from it.

References:
[1] De Wit, H. (2002). Internationalization of higher education in the United States and Europe.Westport, CT: Greenwood
[2] Knight, J. (2004). Internationalization remodelled: definition, approaches and rationales. Journal of Studies in International Education, 8(1), 5-31.
[3] Knight, J. & de Wit, H. (1995). Strategies for internationalisation of higher education: historical and conceptual perspectives. In H. de Wit (Ed.), Strategies for internationalisation of higher education: a comparative study of Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States of America. (pp. 5-32). Amsterdam: European Association for International Education (EAIE).