Cultural Readiness for Internationalization (CRI) at Three Institutions of Higher Education

Agnew, Melanie.   University of Calgary (Canada) ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  2010. NR69480.

Abstract (summary)

This multi-case qualitative study examined the interplay between ideology and university culture at three institutions of higher education in the United States with a focus on cultural readiness for internationalization. It sought to identify which conditions for cultural readiness are present or lacking and the degree and types of changes needed to support internationalization. Methods of data collection included interviews and focus groups across three levels of analysis: micro (faculty), meso (deans), and macro (senior leadership). State and federal educational reform initiatives were also examined.

Findings indicate that the political economy contextualized the interplay between ideology and university culture in supporting and impeding internationalization. Market forces, state priorities, and academic concerns highlight a constant struggle for the control and coordination of education, challenging the role, purpose, and relevance of higher education. Reduced government funds, a weak local economy, and new immigration patterns shaped participants' perceptions of internationalization along disciplinary and professional lines as well as institutional type. Although all 54 participants generally agreed that internationalization was good and desirable, many participants resisted internationalization. Divergent understandings of and motivations to engage in internationalization, and a false dichotomy of serving either the local or the global context prevented many participants from actively engaging in internationalization.

Motivations to engage in internationalization were loosely stratified among the participants relative to their professional role and function (faculty, deans, or senior leadership), resulting in fault lines in institutional policy frameworks and diffused goals and strategies for internationalization. Further, the applied-pure and hard-soft qualities of the disciplines raised concerns pertaining to differential funding of the disciplines, privileging those aligned to national economic imperatives. Economic motivations to engage in internationalization were particularly evident in the hard-applied and -pure disciplines, raising questions pertaining to the role and purpose of higher education.

The interplay between ideology and university culture highlight potential pitfalls to advancing and sustaining an international mission. Given the current political context, two primary concerns emerge: (I) the extent to which the false dichotomy of serving the local or global community impedes the development of meaningful social, cultural, economic, and political connections between the local and international communities; and, (2) higher education's capacity to advance and sustain an international mission and protect academic freedom necessary to the society it serves and to which it belongs. Failing to take safeguards against hegemonic influence leaves the institution—its autonomy and academic freedom—walking on a proverbial tightrope, balancing budgets against the interests of the public good.

Indexing (details)

Business indexing term
Higher education;
Cultural relations;
Colleges & universities;
Multicultural education;
International relations
0455: Multicultural Education
0745: Higher education
Identifier / keyword
Education; Cultural readiness for internationalization; Higher education; Internationalization
Cultural Readiness for Internationalization (CRI) at Three Institutions of Higher Education
Agnew, Melanie
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 72/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
University of Calgary (Canada)
University location
Canada -- Alberta, CA
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL