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Internationalization and Globalization in Higher Education

Written By

Douglas E. Mitchell and Selin Yildiz Nielsen

Submitted: December 15th, 2011 Published: August 17th, 2012

DOI: 10.5772/48702

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1. Introduction

The core ideas developed in this is chapter were stimulated by two studies in which the authors explored how globalization is affecting higher education in the USA. The first was a study of how globalization has been transforming the faculty labor market in two-year community colleges (Mitchell, Nielsen & Batie, 2011). That study clarifies why these colleges have dramatically expanded their reliance on a part-time and task-contingent faculty workforce. The second study was a qualitative assessment of how faculty, students and administrators in a four-year research intensive public university computer science department are interpreting the globalization of intellectual, employment and student recruitment aspects of their work (Nielsen, 2011). This study documented ways in which research universities aggressively pursue internationalization of intellectual and organizational dimensions of their work while remaining largely unconscious of the extent to which these changes are related to political, social and economic globalization of the larger culture in which they are embedded.

With these studies as background, the body of this chapter examines the differences between internationalization and globalization in the contemporary development of higher education. Internationalization is seen as something higher education institutions do while globalization is something that is happening to them.

Virtually all institutions of higher education, public and private, are rapidly evolving into global actors, following a trend found in many other industries (Naidoo, 2006). The influence of ‘globalization’ and ‘internationalization’ on the character and behavior of higher education institutions has become a key theme in recent research (Enders, 2004; van der Wende, 2001). Unfortunately, the more frequently these terms are used, the more their meanings get mingled and confused (Enders, 2004). There remain some fundamental differences between these terms, however, and clarifying those differences is an important first step in understanding how higher education institutions are evolving.

Despite being a popular buzz word in the mainstream media, the nature and significance of globalization has proven hard to pin down with enough precision to see how it is influencing policies or practices in higher education. Globalization is an inherently complicated phenomenon, stubbornly resisting easy interpretation and application (Carnoy & Rhoten, 2002). Like globalization, internationalization is also a popular and frequently employed concept, used in varying contexts and for diverse purposes. But the operational meaning of this term remains equally vague and unclear (Knight, 1999; Stier 2003; Yang, 2002). Knight (1999) makes a helpful contribution toward distinguishing these two terms. She argues that: “globalization can be thought of as the catalyst while internationalization is the response, albeit a response in a proactive way” (p. 14).While we like the notion that internationalization is the active ingredient acting to express and reinforce globalization, we do have a minor quibble with Knight regarding his distinction. As the Nielsen (2011) study indicates, internationalization can be, and probably should be, thought of as a leading variable, encouraging and facilitating globalization, not just a response variable describing how institutions respond to the presence of globalization in the spheres of economics, politics, culture and social interactions.

In the next few paragraphs we explore in greater depth the nature and dynamics of globalization. This analysis is followed by a synthesis of ideas about internationalization.


2. Globalization

Structurally, globalization is made both possible and necessary by the development of two transforming technologies – transportation and communication (Boyd & Mitchell, 2005). From supertankers to supersonic aircraft, from superhighways to bullet trains, transportation advances have radically penetrated economic markets and breached cultural barriers, making access to material goods, social interactions and political relationships unimaginable two generations ago. Simultaneously, communication technologies carrying hundreds of simultaneous high-fidelity, real-time, voice and video channels by satellites and over the internet are giving global reach to political ideas, competitive price/value comparisons, instant news, social organization networks and dozens of other innovations in the way people access events, ideas, information and opinions. Transportation and communication technology innovations are no longer optional attributes to be used primarily by cultural or political elites. Ordinary citizens have nearly universal access to these technologies and are reaping substantial social, political, cultural and economic benefits. Virtually all important social institutions, as well as entrepreneurs, intellectual, political and cultural leaders, ignore the global reach of ideas and material things now available to nearly everyone at their peril. American economic dominance is being challenged as are the political ideas and cultural mores in all developed nations. From Tiananmen Square to the Arab Spring and the U.S. Occupy movement the world has seen a dramatic melding of technological and cultural change on an unprecedented scale – made possible by technological change, but driven by an emerging global consciousness.

2.1. Two dimensions of globalization

Although the term ‘globalization’ has been around since the early 1960s, developments in the last 20-30 years have largely shaped its character and impact. In recent literature the term is typically used either to characterize international spatial awareness or to highlight a transformation in the processes of interaction among individuals and groups. Tomlison, (1999) takes the first of these views – the spatial view – in his book “Globalization and Culture.” He argues that globalization refers to the world as a single place that serves as a common frame of reference for everyone. This notion is shared by many authors including Robertson, who was the first author to use it in the title of a sociological article in 1985 (cited in Currie, 1998). Robertson defined globalization as a compacted world where time and space are compressed (cited in Currie, 1998; see also Harvey, 1989). In this context, globalization also used to refer to the interconnections arising among mass cultures creating a consciousness of living in a “global village” (McLuhan, 1964; New World Encyclopedia, 2007). For observers emphasizing this geographic conceptualization, institutions of higher education are seen as at the center of this compressed world (Suarez-Orozco & Qin-Hillard, 2004). For these observers, the essence of globalization is found in new ways of thinking about space and time (Carnoy, 1999). Higher education institutions help to stimulate and clarify this new way of thinking (Suarez-Orozco & Qin-Hillard, 2004). Geographical space becomes increasingly measured by the time it takes to get from one location to another. As the time necessary to connect distinct geographical locations is reduced, distance or space undergoes psychological and cultural compression (Tomlison, 1999). Entrepreneurial institutions of higher education seek to capitalize on the shrinking geography, while less entrepreneurial ones find themselves pressured to adapt and respond (Carnoy, 2005).

The second view of globalization – the interaction process view – is found in the works of authors such as, Morrow & Torres (2000), Giddens (1994), Rizvi (2004), Altbach (2001), Beerkens (2003), Armstrong (2007) and Spring (2008). From this process view, globalization is defined as the practice of growing social interaction and connectivity among people around the world, creating economic, social, cultural, political, environmental, scientific and technological interdependence (Levin, 2001; Marginson, 2007). This type of interdependence has been described by Castells as creating a “network society” (1997). Not surprisingly, taking the spatial orientation toward globalization focuses attention more on transportation technologies while the process view tends to give priority to innovations in communication. One should not make too much of this distinction, however, since transportation innovations improve direct, face-to-face, communication while the virtually instant and increasingly high fidelity communications of the internet annihilate spatial barriers when information and idea sharing, rather than exchange of material goods, are the primary goals.

Globalization in both its spatial and process dimensions has been happening to the world for a long time. Only since the mid-twentieth century has its impact on the stability and viability of the modern system of nation-states become recognizable. Before the Second World War and the subsequent abandonment of European colonization of so-called third world nations the system of nation states was not thoroughly established and stable enough to seem to be the “natural order” of political institutions. Although de-colonialization is not yet complete, globalization and internationalization are shaking the foundations of the nation-state system of global political and economic organization.

2.2. Globalization challenges nation state integrity

Beerkens (2003, p.130) highlights key elements in the pressure system challenging nation-state political integrity. He sees four challenges arising from globalization. First, global is identified as, “a geographical concept distinguishing it from local.” This makes it necessary for nation-states to critique parochial policies, norms and practices by referencing them to those of other nations. Second, globalization is, “a concept of authority distinguishing it from territorial sovereignty.” This means that the global perspective is challenging the very idea of national sovereignty by asserting that nations are, and should be, held to an international accounting of their human rights practices, social welfare policies and protection of political liberties. Third, globalization is seen as, “a cultural concept distinguishing it from isolation.” Nowhere is this more visible than in the uprisings of the Arab Spring which produced a transnational sense of political solidarity or in the worldwide dissemination of popular music, folk art and dramatic films. Fourth, Beerkens (2003, p. 130) sees globalization as, “an institutional concept distinguishing it from national.” On this point, his summary formulation is a bit fuzzy, but the essential point is that social institutions of all types increasingly derive their legitimacy and, therefore, their social and political support, by reflecting worldwide standards of organization and operation. For our purposes in this chapter, this globalization of institutional forms can be applied directly to colleges and universities.

The political arena of globalization cannot be separated from social, cultural, and economic forces that shape the state’s position. While global processes are often seen as beyond the control of nation-states, the role of the state has remained key in the expression of social interests and representation of social groups or classes that benefit or suffer from public policy formation in response to globalization (Shaw, 1999; Morrow, Torres, 2000). As the control of the economy is transferred from the public to the private sector which is broadly the main argument of the neo-liberal economic agenda, there has been a shift in the political platform of institutions (Cohen, 2007). Higher education institutions that pursue an institutional integration to the new economy have benefited from these political processes (Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004).

An example of this can be seen in many states having legal requirements that faculties reveal patentable findings of research to make certain that colleges and universities have the opportunity to review them for commercial possibility (Chew, 1992). Another feature of globalization on institutional policies is the cross-national policy borrowing by institutions and forming international policies among institutions (Lingard, 2000). Appadurai (1996) argues that the policy ideas flowing globally are also linked to international political organizations such as the EU, World Bank, IMF, UN, UNESCO and OECD. These organizations or systems are largely institutionalizing mechanisms and they represent “a complex and ungovernable web of relationships that extends beyond the nation state” (Lingard, 2000; Waters, 2001).

2.3. Globalization is transforming higher education

From the social process transformation perspective, globalization is having a transformative effect on the core functions of institutions of higher education. Under the influence of social interaction globalization, higher educational institutions are developing a consumerist mentality which transforms education into a product exchangeable in an open market (Marginson & Considine, 2000; Altbach, 2004, Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004). Slaughter and Leslie argue that “the academy has shifted from a liberal arts core to an entrepreneurial periphery,” in which “marketization” of the academics leads to the rise of “research and development with commercial purpose” (1997, p. 208). This commercial purpose allows higher education institutions to compete for the monetary or human resources available globally to benefit their institutions (Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004).

Economic globalization is also turning knowledge into a commodity; a commodity whose value depends on the ease and security with which it is created, stored and transferred from producers to users, as well on its utility in the production of other goods and services. As knowledge is being commodified, however, social, political and cultural globalization turn knowledge production and distribution into symbolic status and power resources with significant consequences. Seeking the power and prestige of symbolic knowledge, higher education institutions are encouraged to pursue internationalization of recruitment faculty and students and to secure recognition for knowledge production. Importantly, the Nielsen (2011) study shows, however, that the faculty and administrators pursuing this internationalization remain largely unconscious of how this activity is reinforcing the very globalization forces that are reshaping their work force and productive processes.

Globalization in academy also constitutes of a wide variety of components including higher education institutions, the academic fields, scholars, and students as contributing factors. These components each hold a different position in the identification of globalization in higher education.

2.4. Market competition divides as well as integrating institutions

The institution of higher education has always been international in scope with the exchange of ideas, scholars and students, but modern technology, the internet, communication technologies, the increasing flow of students and highly educated scientists from all over the world as well as scientific investments, patent activities and R & D make globalization more visible in the scientific field today (Heylin, 2006). The arrival of computer networks and systems, and the challenges they bring cannot be solved without international collaboration, such as adapting software usage around the world, the internet not having a single owner, overcrowding of the internet and selection of knowledge. For example, a software developer in California needs to collaborate with researchers in India in order to have adaptable products. At the center of these challenges are current national and international policies. For example, while developing technology with collaborations among different nations, agreements can be made to protect intellectual property but enforcements may not be possible. For example, the DVD copying is solved by having six different regions around the world. A DVD bought in Europe does not work in North America because of regional differences encrypted in the DVD. However, as digital technology advances and more and more information is online, controlling piracy again became an issue. As the concern over controlling technological innovations increase, we see more and more higher education institutions dealing with issues to manage R&D and protecting ownership. The way institutional policies are formed in the light of scientific and technological advancements reflect how the institutions respond to globalization. (Jenkins, 2003).

2.5. Globalization is transforming social relationships

Technological and economic changes have an influence on social and cultural structures. Globalization has created a new social environment (Kellner, 2002). This social environment has been described in terms of ‘the widening, deepening and speeding up of world-wide interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life’ (Held et al., 1999, p. 2). It is a process which symbolizes a transformation in the spatial organization of social relations and connections. These connections can be evaluated in terms of their amplitude, strength, speed and impact generating global or local flows and networks of activity, interaction, and the exercise of power (Held et al., 1999). Social groups get closer together but at the same time persistently try to maintain a more intentional focus on their localized identities (Chaney & Martin, 2004; Knight 2004; Yang, 2002) In social and cultural perspective, globalization can be seen as a double-edged sword. Chomsky refers to globalization as international integration (Chomsky, 2006). This simple explanation can hold divergent worldviews socially and culturally. For example, globalization can bring people who share certain beliefs, professions or causes together such as the professional cultures, Turkish pop music fans, holocaust survivors, Muslim extremists or human rights activists to form new forms of societies. At the same time, as the national communities get more pluralized, cultural and economic differences can form divisions among the people who share the same locality (Cevre, 1995; Hannerz, 2004).

2.6. Research universities play a prominent role

Armstrong (2007) introduced a new conceptual framework through which to examine the impact of globalization on US higher education institutions. His framing of the process of globalization in the international arena sees higher education institutions as hubs. Armstrong depicts a new model of institutions where students and faculty earn degrees from various international locales through global partnerships and satellite campuses thereby categorizing such institutions as non-traditional in the sense that they have no geographical borders. In this sense, institutions branch out and become global as opposed to just exchanging people and scholars with a fixed location. They expand their concept of being global as having international students, curriculum and activities, and having study abroad programs to a different order of having programs overseas which rely a great deal on the partnerships between the people from different educational institutions around the world (Armstrong, 2007; Scott, 2000).

When exploring globalization especially in the academics, we see that research universities play a particular role with global competition and high number of international students. Armstrong & Becker (2004) discuss in a lecture series on the subject of Higher Education and the Global Marketplace, the present situation, the emerging environment, and future positions of US research universities. Altbach and Knight’s (2007) article discusses the motivations behind the global activities of research universities. Armstrong and Becker explain the high cost associated with supplying research, instruction and social environment for students in undergraduate, master, and doctoral programs serving mostly traditional students (2004). Traditional students are identified as the ones that study on campus. Education in these universities is seen as investment in the future of a private market economy. Therefore, as the global economy depends on skilled workers, the need for educating more people to participate in this economy gains importance (Armstrong & Becker, 2004).

Altbach and Knight discuss the motivations of research institutions to participate in the global arena in a different light. They explain the motivation of expansion also includes enhancing research knowledge and capacity as well as to increase cultural awareness in these organizations (Altbach & Knight, 2007). Both articles stress the point that the higher education institutions, particularly research institutions that participate in the global arena do so not only with the traditional ways of having international students and curricula, but also expanding to different locales in the world by branch campuses and online collaborations.

In sum, this brief analysis of globalization reveals that wide-ranging interconnectedness trends are evident, and they directly have an influence on higher education institutions (Altbach, 2004). Many of these institutions, however, struggle as they have to respond to an ever-increasing set of global challenges such as competition or handling increasing international populations while remaining confined by institutional structural principles passed on from an earlier, more state-centered world

(Najam, Runnalls & Halle, 2007). Academic systems and institutions try to accommodate these developments in different ways; internationalization is one way of responding to globalization (Altbach, 2001).


3. Internationalization: The engine of globalization

As distinguished from globalization with its emphasis on worldwide conditions that influence perceptions of space, mobility of actions, the nature of communication and orientations to social interaction, internationalization focuses attention on the intentional actions of individual, groups and social institutions as they actively seek to cross national borders in pursuit of social, economic, political or cultural benefits. Looking at higher education institutions, Knight (1999) offers a working definition of internationalization in this domain. She sees internationalization as a matter of integrating transnational elements into the, “purpose, functions or delivery of post-secondary education” (p. 2). That is, colleges and universities are internationalizing their behavior when they reshape their purposes to attract international students, to deploy their programs across national borders, concentrate on internationally advantageous educational program niches, restructure work roles or compensation systems to recruit, retain or manage employees, etc.

3.1. World citizenship consciousness

One of the more powerful ways in which internationalization of action arises is through reconceptualization of citizenship. Rather than seeing themselves as citizens of a region, cultural subgroup or nation state, ordinary people are increasingly seeing themselves as entitled to, and ready to participate in, opportunities for interaction, work and consumption on an international scale. Individuals see themselves as citizens of the world, free to move about, trade experiences, seek educational opportunities, and pursue work or entertainment. Once they acquire this world consciousness they begin to find national borders inconvenient annoyances, inhibiting rather than enhancing security and opportunity. Though new and rapidly expanding in many domains, for students and faculty of higher education institutions, this kind of internationalization is not new. Since the medieval times, universities have been internationally oriented. For example, academics and students moved from Cairo to Bologna to Oxford in order to take advantage of the academic elites of those locations (Stier, 2003). Contemporary internationalization of higher education has its roots in this academic mobility of students and scholars (Scott, 2006). Scholarly exchange of faculty and students involved with scholarly inquiry has been a hallmark of university internationalization throughout their history (Vestal, 1994).

Internationalization has become more complex and comprehensive in recent decades. As noted during Congressional hearings on the International Education Act (IEA) of 1966 there is now a broad consensus that internationalization of education encompasses three major areas: a) movement of scholars and students seeking training and research, b) convergence in curricular content, and c) structural arrangements that provide cross-border technical assistance and educational cooperation programs (IEA, 1966). In 1994, Kerr, Gate & Kawaoka gave less emphasis to the structural components of international cooperation, but otherwise reaffirmed these components of internationalization, In research reports prepared for ACE (2002) and the International Association of Universities (IAU) (2003) the mobility of students and faculty were seen as the primary mechanisms of internationalization (Knight, 2003).

3.2. Collaborative science and scholarship

Internationalization in higher education is also evident in scholarly collaboration and the development of international standards in academic writing. Students move to other countries for training and researchers join forces internationally for collaborative research and a substantial number cross international borders (often several times) during the course of their academic careers. Moreover, by the start of the twenty-first century most prominent academic journals were routinely accepting submissions from any part of the world and trying to apply universal criteria in reviewing them (Martin, 2007).

There are many ways by which technology is influencing this international collaboration (Castells, 1999). “Big Science” like that involving collaborative space exploration or the CERN collider in Geneva, Switzerland routinely involves multinational teams of researchers and multinational financial support. Science oriented industrial processes are also transformed into international endeavors by new forms of technology such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, biometrics, network technology, and information technology (Taylor, 2001). These developments require a more educated work force and open up global markets for products and ideas, encouraging higher education institutions to take an international stance in order to respond (Carnoy, 2005; Carnoy & Rhoten, 2002; Altbach, 2004; Marginson, 2007).

The internationalization of higher education institutions focused on research and cross-national teaching is facilitated by multinational research and development agreements with international business and industry organizations (Marginson & Considine, 2000; Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004). Such agreements call for the movement of personnel and facilities as well as ideas.

3.3. Dispersal of operations: Campus and center establishment

One prerequisite for success in the global marketplace is decentralization of service delivery so that the specialized needs and preferences of customers and clients can be served efficiently and effectively. This decentralization, combined with the centralization of production standards, is achieved by having a long list of highly standardized products and services that are mixed and matched by front line workers (Wallace & Brady, 2001). In computer manufacture, for example, a wide variety of highly standardized parts are produced in manufacturing plants all over the world. The parts are to exacting standards so that they are delivered ready for “off the shelf” assembly into highly individualized personal computers (Levinson, 2005). Labels like “made in China” or “made in America” no longer make sense as parts are manufactured in many different countries and their assemblage no longer has a singular national identity (Griffin, 2004, p.251).

Sharing knowledge and production of finished goods is rapidly leading to the “spatialization” of work. “Spatialization” is a term coined by Wallace & Brady (2001) to characterize work that is no longer bound to a particular geographical location (cited in Mitchell, Yildiz & Batie, 2011).This spatialization is reflected in the explosion of on-line, distance education programs, and the proliferation of satellite research centers and instructional campuses, and the restructuring of professional work into limited obligation, contingent contracts that commission the teaching of courses one at a time and remove full-time and tenured status from the working contracts of many teachers and staff specialists. An example, is seen in the number of students Turkey’s Anadolu University is serving in many different countries – their numbers have more than doubled in the last decade; they are now serving more than a million students (International Center for Distance Learning, Anadolu University). The University of London and Stanford University are also in the top ten of distance education universities in the world each with students living in over 180 countries (ICDL).

Studies have identified that in order to give way to cultural convergence; institutions must consciously increase their internationalization efforts (U.S. Department of Education, 1979; Clarke, 2004). Consequently, internationalization is both a response to globalization and a causal force hastening its further development. By having a chance to share cultural differences or personal similarities by studying in the same academic fields, people from distant locations in the world converge toward a common culture and loyalty to the same institutions (UNESCO, 2004).

3.4. International entrepreneurialism

Development of an international market for college level research and teaching has stimulated a sharp increase in university entrepreneurialism. Increased availability of knowledge creates competition among higher education institutions to keep up with the growth in specialized knowledge and control a market share in its development and distribution. Institutional status depends on being able to contribute to acquisition and dissemination of knowledge at its frontiers. To remain competitive, higher education institutions require increasingly substantial fiscal resources. And gaining needed financial support, requires establishing and maintaining a reputation for academic excellence. This reputation, in turn, is enhanced by pursuing the very best student and faculty talents even if it means investing heavily in recruiting across national borders.

Academic capitalists seek to accumulate information resources and to control flows of information within and across national boundaries. As a particular type of economic capital information can be compared with physical capital that is relatively static often tied to a specific location and fiscal capital that is easier to move and leverage for marketplace advantage but remains scarce and difficult to reproduce or pirate. Information capital, by contrast, is much more volatile than other forms of capital because it is relatively easy to replicate and thus be moved to a new location without disappearing in its current location. Thus, information is hard to hoard or otherwise control without very strong transorganizational and transnational agreements on patents, copyrights, and access to institutions of advanced education. It is for these reasons that the internationalization of higher education and the movement to contingency employment of higher education faculty are playing a vital role in facilitating and directing the progress of globalization.

During the Cold War, the motivation behind internationalization in United States higher education institutions was highly political and contradictory. Although the drive for internationalization was seen as a sign of American imperialism by the rest of the world; US policymakers’ presentation was on the lines of an initiative for peace and mutual understanding (de Wit, 1995). This view of international education as a force for peace has been a dominant one in US politics and higher education over the past 50 years. Following World War II, this political rationale was the dominant one in initiatives to internationalize higher education and stimulated investments like the European Marshall Plan the OECD and UNESCO. But with the end of the Cold War, political emphasis slowly gave way to an economic rationale (Knight, 2003). Economically, there is an argument that globalization is changing the goals of higher education in order to mirror markets. This notion is labeled as “academic capitalism” to symbolize a systematic creation of policies to make marketable activities possible, changes in the connections with the states, private organizations to support research; basically a change that prioritizes potential revenue generation rather than general expansion of knowledge (Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004). This change in the establishment of higher education institutions can be interpreted as a result of economic globalization. Advanced knowledge is seen as raw material that can be owned, marketed and sold. In addition, rising private corporations need well educated workers that influence the curricular selections (Schmidt, 2002; Slaughter & Leslie, 1997).

Partly because the core concepts of globalization have become an ideology driving organizational development and management strategies, and partly because measures of standardized educational attainment are now seen as reliable and appropriate, community colleges are being intensely pressured to adopt globalized marketing principles in their policy and management processes (Levin, 2001). Unfortunately, community colleges have only been able to develop systems for responding to half of the globalized equation – they produce an enormous variety of specialized educational programs, responding to virtually any recognizable community preference or demand. Cain (1999, p. 3) makes this point by comparing community colleges to Wal-Mart stores, saying, “The community college extends the one-stop shopping idea to education. If a need exists, a community college administrator is searching for a way to meet it”. But the colleges are sorely lacking in the capacity to centralize the standards for producing these educational programs. Lack of standardization is partly the result of the traditional emphasis on academic freedom in all colleges and universities. More often, however, it is simply the result of an inability to clearly specify what instructional standards are required, and a general weakness in the ability of college administrators to hold faculty accountable for meeting whatever standards they are able to specify (Grubb, 1999; Levinson, 2005).

3.5. Neo-liberal managerialism: The mechanism of competition for resources

Internationalization of higher education has generated an important shift toward a much more aggressive managerialism, often referred to as neo-liberalism. This aggressive managerialism is aimed at transforming the nature of work and restructuring relationships between employers and workers. Ideas pioneered by David Gordon (Gordon, 1980) and creatively advanced by Wallace and Brady (2001) depict the development of the new economy as grounded in the inevitable tensions between labor and management as they seek to establish workplace rights and responsibilities within the evolving technologies of production and management. These scholars argue that industrialization, with its advancing complexity and intensification of workplace technologies continues to create distinctive restructuring of labor/management relationships. In an early industrial period direct supervision of workers by the owner/entrepreneurs for whom they worked was made both possible and necessary as industry needed to separate workplaces from domiciles. Supervisory control was simple and direct because the entrepreneurs were craftsmen themselves and typically worked alongside their employees. This served to obscure social class differences while generating loyalty from the workers (Gordon et al, 1982).

As production technologies grew, a distinctive managerial class came into existence, creating a new framework for labor management relations and work supervision. The idea of “scientific management” emerged. Scientific management focused on technical control over worker activities through the disaggregation of tasks and utilizing “time and motion” studies of how each component task can be most efficiently performed to guide managerial supervision. Worker organizations were craft unions empowering skilled workers performing the same generic tasks (D. Gordon, 1980, Sennett, 1998). As intelligence gradually moved from the workers into their machines, however, supervision became more bureaucratic, and there arose a sharp distinction between the “primary labor market” for skilled and professional workers whose tasks required autonomy and managerial support (rather than supervisory direction) and a “secondary labor market” for unskilled workers who were managed through direct supervision. Until industrial unions developed, unskilled workers could be, and often were, easily replaced to control costs and discourage worker collusion (Gordon, Edwards, & Reich, 1982). Public sector unions, including those embraced by community college faculty, adopted the industrial union paradigm.

Wallace and Brady (2001) argue that we are now moving into a fourth period in which labor/management relationships are driven by the technologization of the work itself. They call this fourth period the period of work “spatialization” to highlight two key components of the new worker/manager relationship. First, spatialization highlights the fact that the application of advanced digital technologies has resulted in work that is no longer place bound to a particular factory or work site. Management, through detailed specification of measurable work standards, can farm out various components of almost any production process to far away places and still maintain tight control over its quality, quantity and cost. This broad distribution of work components enables managers to both seek the most economical venue for production and, simultaneously, undercut the power of worker organizations by simply moving production away from organized worker environments (Burris, 1993; Harrison, 1994; Vallas & Beck, 1996; Wallace & Brady, 2001).

With the emergence of internationalism in higher education labor/management relationships are shifting rapidly away from permanent, full-time jobs and toward work that involves contingent, intermittent, task contracting that is not tied to specific work locations. New managerial technologies make it possible to supervise outcomes rather than task performance, and to employ workers only for the amount of time needed to complete specified tasks (Iversen, 2004; Sennett, 2006; Carnoy, 2000). This strategy has dramatic consequences for work role definitions as workers are no longer expected to develop loyalty to their firms or to require fringe benefit packages that keep them tied to a particular firm. “Loyalty is dead” Sennett (1998, p. 65) asserts, and, therefore, “each vigorous employee ought to behave like an entrepreneur”. Crucial to this redesign of work, however, is the development of managerial tools for actually monitoring production results (and assigning responsibility for those results to specific workers), rather than supervising the execution of specific tasks (Applebaum & Albin, 1989). Think, here, about the new strategies for building products as diverse as automobiles, computers and household appliances. These products are now designed to consist of highly standardized modular parts whose production can be spatially distributed. Construction, repair and maintenance of these products consists of assembling or replacing the appropriate modular components. This work can be monitored remotely and technologically (Griffin, 2004). Diagnostic instruments identify problematic modules, and worker training focuses on reading the diagnostic instruments and adjusting or replacing the appropriate module. Moreover, management can fairly easily test whether any given worker knows how to undertake the identification and proper installation of modular parts. Thus workers can be hired contingently, performing tasks on a “piece work” basis.

The shift is also visible in the large scale shift of manpower and capital from material manufacturing to information processing industries (Reich, 1992; Rifkin, 1995). As manufacturing production jobs decline in the highly industrialized countries, these jobs are replaced by new jobs that require higher levels of education to keep up with the everchanging technology (Carnoy, 2000). As one economist observed three decades ago, the average machine has at least a high school diploma and is learning more every year (Theobold, 1972). The widely noted shrinkage of the American middle class is, no doubt, substantially linked to the awesome gap that has developed between what it takes to tend the new production machinery and what it takes to finance, design, build and manage it. That said, the real impact of technology on skills according to Spenner (1985), Freeman & Soete (1994) and Carnoy (2000) depends on the distinct qualities of the labor force and the relation between the economy and the educational system. As Carnoy (2000) puts it “Technology seems simultaneously to de-skill and re-skill the labor force” (p.43).

For many Americans, community colleges are the point of entry into the information age economy. “The ‘technical revolution’ created a plethora of specialized, high-skilled jobs that fueled a need for workforce training, which community colleges were willing and able to provide expeditiously” (Levinson, 2005, p.47). They sort and assign their students to future roles in that economy. Their task, already enormous and growing more difficult all the time, is to assist their students in moving from service and production workers, who live to support the information economy infrastructure, into the ranks of knowledge workers who are capable of organizing and managing the information systems on which it is based (Griffith & Connor, 1994; Cain, 1999; Levinson 2005). Business thinker Peter Drucker commented on this subject in 1977, saying that “The substitution of knowledge for manual effort as the productive resource in work is the greatest change in the history of work, which is, of course, a process as old as man himself…Education has moved from having been an ornament, if not a luxury, to becoming the central economic resource of technological society” (cited in Griffith & Connor, 1994, p.78). To respond to these changes, the community colleges need a faculty that is both smarter than the average machine and capable of teaching students how to become reasonably efficient lifelong learners (Cohen & Brawer, 2003). This task is doubly daunting because community college faculty have high workloads, low levels of professional support, and typically are working with students who have a lot to learn just to catch up with more advantaged peers who are attending the nation’s four-year colleges and universities (Grubb, 1999; McGrath & Spear, 1991; Kozeracki, 2002).

3.6. Neo-institutionalism: Prioritizing legitimacy in the nation-state

Another dimension of internationalization is the development of organizational designs often characterized as a “neo-institutionalism.” This new framework for organizational theory is replacing bureaucratic organizational theory as the dominant paradigm for analyzing complex organizations. Beginning in the 1970s with a seminal article by John Meyer and Brian Rowan (Meyer & Rowan, 1977), organizational sociologists increasingly emphasized the fact that many organizational activities often are not rationally linked to productivity goals. Instead, they emerge as a means of securing and maintaining organizational legitimacy in the eyes of governmental, professional and community groups (Powell & DiMaggio, 1991).

Early in the twentieth century the German sociologist Max Weber (Weber, Henderson, & Parsons, 1947) convincingly characterized rational bureaucracies as the archetypical modern social organizations. In this conception, organizational design is directed toward realizing production goals. Fredrick Taylor (Taylor, 1911) applied the Weberian concepts and used the idea of rational organization to develop guidelines for “scientific management” of bureaucratic production (Ray & Reed, 1994). By the 1970s, however, there developed a substantial reconceptualization of how complex social organizations are created and sustained. Research revealed that, within their boundaries, organizations are cultural systems with traditions, moral (or perhaps immoral) value systems, and a rich set of symbols and rituals for creating and expressing shared meanings capable of establishing social identities (not just work roles) for organizational members (Senge, 1990; Bolman & Deal, 2003). Beyond the organizational boundaries, emergent scholarship was documenting the broad dependencies of all organizations on the ways in which environmental actors – civic governments, professional associations and community groups – are willing to endorse their legitimacy by embracing their organizational missions and approving their operational routines. As a result, contemporary organizational sociology has raised to central significance the institutional rather than the bureaucratic aspects of complex social organizations (Rowan & Miskel, 1999; Scott, 1992). By “institutional” these sociologists mean that the moral, normative and symbolic dimensions of organizational behavior are more important to organizational stability and success than are rational, means-ends productivity considerations. In short, the new organizational sociology proclaims that “legitimacy has trumped productivity” as the fundamental standard for evaluation and support (Mitchell, 1996; Powell & DiMaggio, 1991). The internationalization of universities puts this need for a coherent culture at the center of organizational effectiveness, creating significant tensions between the entrepreneurialism and neo-liberal managerialism with their emphasis on competitive processes and the neo-institutional corporate need for a more collaborative and culture building process which is more fragile in character and requires more substantial social interaction than is often produced in international educational ventures.

Neglect of the neo-institutional aspects of international cooperation was seen In the Nielsen study, where a major finding is that research university faculty did not consider cultural globalization to be something emerging from their international actions. They intellectually recognize globalization with world citizen consciousness as a phenomenon encountered in their international relationships, but do not see that their actions are building that citizenship consciousness. They do not account for the actions of their academic department in terms of global consciousness or interaction. Rather, they interpret their actions almost entirely in terms of competitive entrepreneurialism – raising the institutional ranking of the department, conducting good research, getting good students, getting more grants (money), etc.

Internationalization of student recruitment and competitive knowledge production reinforces the entrepreneurial side of international behavior, and deflect attention away from the impact of this competition on the development of multinational globalized and institutionalized forms of collaboration. As a result, observers note the emergence of global norms and cultures, while the students, faculties and university administrators who are producing these changes see themselves acting in largely self-interested and nationalistic ways. Ironically, it appears that the harder universities strive to mobilize human capital resources and achieve national prestige and reputations for excellence, the more they succeed in globalizing the higher education culture and produce a higher education ranking system which has common international metrics of success.

For the less prestigious community colleges, the competition of resources, students and high status internationalized programs leads to dramatically higher levels of neo-liberal management behavior through part-time contingent faculty employment and rapid changes in instructional program emphases. For these institutions, the reality of globalized educational norms means unrelenting pressure to advance instructional programs in response to global knowledge dissemination and secure control over the employment and assignment of teachers to allow for sharply increased managerial control.

3.7. The yin and yang of internationalization and globalization in higher education

We started this chapter with an explanation of globalization, arguing that internationalization is both a response to, and a contributing factor facilitating, globalization. This was illustrated with examples from two studies exploring globalization and internationalization in higher education settings. Like the Yin and Yang forces in ancient Chinese philosophy internationalization and globalization work together to transform the self-understanding and organizational activities of both research universities and community colleges. Grounded in a revolution in transportation and communication technologies, globalization and internationalization operate together to create a global interdependence in economics, politics and culture.

With the Nielsen (2011) study of a research university department, we see international faculty and students moving freely around the world, contributing to globalization. Internationalization of higher education allows them to cross borders and institutions, challenging their national loyalties while strengthening their intellectual and institutional loyalties. Institutions like this rely on this shift in loyalties to bring top talent from around the world to work at a prestigious university. Loyalty to institution and field of endeavor are proving stronger than loyalty to national culture, orienting university scholars to pursue international legitimacy and prestige.

In Community colleges, it is not the loyalty to the field that provides the institution the legitimacy for survival. It is meeting a market need. The contingency of labor is legitimate because it benefits the institution financially and enables it to survive in the highly competitive global economy. The institution strives for ever greater flexibility to respond to rapidly changing market conditions and, in doing so, the community colleges operating in a global culture needing to quickly respond to technological advances and the changing job opportunities brought about by the globalization of market structures.

In sum, globalization is allowing a new order in the world of higher education. Going from political to economical purposes, nationalism giving way to world citizenship, culture depending on the identified groups more than geographical locales, organizational legitimacy more and more depending on global name recognition and expansion, allegiance to the organization giving way to entrepreneurialism and most of all control of knowledge dissemination; these forces have altered the fabric of higher education. Adaptation is a survival tool. Higher education organizations that fit, participate and welcome global changes will survive the best.


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Written By

Douglas E. Mitchell and Selin Yildiz Nielsen

Submitted: December 15th, 2011 Published: August 17th, 2012