About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5635-5644
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.1316

Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

R. VanceLee1, R. Kelly2

1Cork Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
2Waterford Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
Renewed political focus on localism and civic society, social pressures for corporate responsibility and transparency, and advances in knowledge mobilisation are prompting a new trend in higher education. Higher education institutions (HEIs) are now engaging with a wider set of stakeholders to ensure their legitimacy and survival. This research explores the stakeholders with whom Irish HEIs engage and why some stakeholders are more salient than others. Very little research has hitherto been conducted into HEI-stakeholder engagement in Ireland. This research contributes to existing literature as it considers the impact of institutional isomorphism and stakeholder salience on manager behaviour when engaging with external stakeholders. The application of these combined theoretical perspectives is novel in HEI-stakeholder research.

It is not difficult to identify stakeholders, both internal and external, having an interest in and engaging with HEIs. This paper focuses on external HEI stakeholders including government and funding agencies, other HEIs, professional bodies, alumni, potential students, businesses, and community groups. HEI managers cannot attend to all actual or potential claims on their organisation from this wide variety of stakeholders, hence stakeholder salience is significant. Stakeholder salience determines the degree to which the claims of stakeholders are given priority and is based on three attributes: stakeholder power to influence the organisation, the legitimacy of the stakeholders’ claim on the organisation, and the degree of urgency of the stakeholders’ claim.

Institutional theory describes isomorphism as the way in which organisations become homogeneous with the environment in which they operate. Three mechanisms triggering institutional isomorphism are proposed by institutional theory: coercive, mimetic, and normative. Stakeholders can mediate institutional effects by acting as either buffers or amplifiers of institutional influences. Conversely institutions can mediate stakeholder effects by legitimating a stakeholder’s claim. Institutional studies suggest macro and distal aspects such as policy, cultural norms, and routines as the main factors shaping stakeholder engagement. On the other hand, stakeholder-oriented studies propose proximate influences, which refer to more immediate and often micro-level influences, of particular stakeholder groups on behaviour. Consequently, an organisation’s behaviour will vary depending on the nature and strength of pressures from institutional and stakeholder forces.

This research adopts an exploratory case study approach. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews and documentary analysis. The interviews were conducted with Heads of Department and top managers of the case HEI to assess and analyse the opinions, perceptions, attitudes and beliefs of individuals relating to stakeholder engagement. A wide variety of stakeholders were identified both in the literature and in the research findings. The case HEI is influenced by macro and distal factors such as policy, culture and norms as well as micro and proximate factors which influence how the HEI builds relationships with its stakeholders. The findings are important for HEIs as greater understanding of the influence of multiple stakeholders will facilitate better organisational planning and control.
@InProceedings{VANCELEE2017STA,
author = {VanceLee, R. and Kelly, R.},
title = {STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS},
series = {11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2017 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-8491-2},
issn = {2340-1079},
doi = {10.21125/inted.2017.1316},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/inted.2017.1316},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {6-8 March, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {5635-5644}}
TY - CONF
AU - R. VanceLee AU - R. Kelly
TI - STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
SN - 978-84-617-8491-2/2340-1079
DO - 10.21125/inted.2017.1316
PY - 2017
Y1 - 6-8 March, 2017
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2017 Proceedings
SP - 5635
EP - 5644
ER -
R. VanceLee, R. Kelly (2017) STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS, INTED2017 Proceedings, pp. 5635-5644.
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