Building local research capacity in higher education: a conceptual model

Jack T. Lee, Aliya Kuzhabekova

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


Building local research capacity is an enduring challenge that confronts many higher education systems particularly when aspirations for a knowledge economy dominate policymaking. While research capacity has received tremendous attention among international development agencies and scholars, the discourse is largely oriented towards infrastructure, skills training and best practices. This study interrogates the concept of local research capacity building as a dynamic process. By contrasting the policy rhetoric with the lived experiences of academics based in Kazakhstan, we propose a conceptual model to illustrate the diverse levels of research capacity building: resources, locality, relevance, human capital and culture. This study examines research capacity building in the context of the internationalisation of higher education as researchers become increasingly mobile. We argue that investing in infrastructure and human capital are insufficient for capacity building. Rather, sustainable capacity building requires research that is relevant to the local context and a cultural environment that can nurture a vibrant research community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-357
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Higher Education Policy and Management
Issue number3
Early online date27 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019


  • Capacity building
  • higher education
  • internationalisation
  • knowledge production
  • local development
  • research capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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