The Impact of Competing Institutional Logics on University Expansion Activities

Macquarie University, Australia

Robert JACK
Macquarie University, Australia


This paper draws from the institutional logics perspective to explain university internationalization. The institutional logics perspective is a metatheoretical approach useful to explain local, national and global environmental forces and how they impact organizational change. Due to globalization and pluralistic institutional forces, universities operate in fragmented environments which offer many different strategic alternatives because there are multiple legitimate paths of internationalization. We investigate institutional pluralism to identify commercial and social benefit institutional logics reflected in university manager plans and objectives for internationalization. This mixed method study draws from both a content analysis of 39 university strategic plans and 29 semi-structured with managers from 13 Australian public universities. Findings in this Australian case study suggest that the leaders of universities are influenced by both commercial and community logics. Both sets of institutional logics are found to influence the expansion of universities through online learning and transnational programs. Internationalization in terms of changes to curriculum and a greater emphasis on international mobility of staff and students are found to be influenced more by traditional logics related to serving 'communities of learned discourse'. We find that globalization of universities and continued adoption of revenue-oriented commercial models are the main drivers of transnational education for public universities. These activities are also found to involve non-commercial motives around prestige and social benefit but revenue motives take precedence. Overall, the logic of social benefit is found to be under threat but has yet to be fully replaced by commercial logics.

Print Close