About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1977-1987
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.0600

Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

R. Vance Lee1, R. Kelly2

1Cork Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
2Waterford Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are now engaging with a wider set of stakeholders to ensure their legitimacy and survival. Engagement implies thoughtful interaction with the non-HEI world in at least four spheres: setting HEI aims, purposes and priorities; relating teaching and learning to the wider world; the back and forth dialogue between researchers and practitioners; and taking on the wider responsibility as neighbours and citizens. A stakeholder is any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of an organisation and may be internal or external. External stakeholders having an interest in, and engaging with HEIs, include government and funding agencies, other HEIs, professional bodies, alumni, potential students, businesses, and community groups. It is important for HEIs to recognise the multiple influences on stakeholder engagement in order to understand behaviour and plan accordingly. Very little research has hitherto been conducted into HEI-stakeholder engagement in Ireland and the influences on these relationships. This research explores the external stakeholders with whom Irish HEIs engage and the reasons why they engage.

This study draws on institutional and stakeholder theories focusing on the impact of institutional isomorphism and stakeholder salience on HEI engagement with external stakeholders. 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. HEIs cannot attend to all actual or potential claims on their organisation from the wide range of external 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 stakeholder claim on the organisation, and the degree of urgency of the stakeholder claim. 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.

This research adopts a qualitative approach using an exploratory case study. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews and conducting documentary analysis. The interviews were conducted with Heads of Department and top managers of the case HEI to assess and analyse the opinions, perspectives, attitudes and beliefs of individuals relating to external stakeholder engagement. Documents analysed include legislation, correspondence between the case HEI and the Higher Education Authority and other publicly available material.

The results confirm that external stakeholder engagement is influenced by institutional, macro and distal factors such as policy, culture and norms as well as stakeholder, micro and proximate factors such as local employer needs. The study highlights the wide variety of external stakeholders with whom the case HEI engages and proposes that the combined stakeholder and institutional influences have determined the breadth of engagement activity at the case HEI.
@InProceedings{VANCELEE2017STA2,
author = {Vance Lee, R. and Kelly, R.},
title = {STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS},
series = {10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2017 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-6957-7},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2017.0600},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2017.0600},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {1977-1987}}
TY - CONF
AU - R. Vance Lee AU - R. Kelly
TI - STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
SN - 978-84-697-6957-7/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2017.0600
PY - 2017
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2017
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2017 Proceedings
SP - 1977
EP - 1987
ER -
R. Vance Lee, R. Kelly (2017) STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS, ICERI2017 Proceedings, pp. 1977-1987.
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