A Management Approach to Successful International Partnerships of Universities: A Phase- and Principle-Based Management Model and Its Implications for Japanese Higher Education

  • Yoshie Takahara

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


Universities, facing both pressures and opportunities created by globalisation, are currently seeking a way to reinforce their capabilities by enhancing their academic strength through internationalisation. In such a setting, the development of international partnerships has been increasingly recognised as a central strategy for the success of internationalisation. Understanding the increasing importance of international partnerships for universities, this study will attempt to understand what could make a successful partnership and identify which management approach is most likely to realise a successful international partnership between universities. A successful international partnership in this thesis is assumed to be the one that is able to function smoothly and effectively towards achieving the goals set by the partnership.This thesis argues that the best management approach for successful international partnerships is a phase- and principle-based management approach. This approach enables a partnership to facilitate the essential ‘phases’ of development and sustainable growth by embedding some critical principles into its management practices to facilitate those essential ‘phases’. This study proposes there are three essential phases and three critical principles. The three essential phases are ‘building a partnership’, ‘consolidation and catalysing maturity’ and ‘maintaining a positive cycle between growth and consolidation’. The three critical principles are accountability, transparency, and learning capacity. While discussing a phase- and principle-based management approach, this thesis develops the premise that an international university partnership is an organic and dynamic phenomenon and the success of an international partnership is underpinned by entrepreneurial culture.This thesis involves case studies with multiple universities from Japan, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, and Australia, engaging in different types of international partnerships. Through the case studies, this thesis explores whether existing universities consider the three phases and the three critical principles as important, and how they have developed and improved their management structures and processes to implement their international partnerships. To be more precise, two types of international university partnerships are studied, namely a partial and task-specific double degree programme (DDP) partnership between a Japanese university and its partners, which is an example of a standard management model, and a comprehensive and organised strategic alliance between multiple universities from different countries, which is an example of the best management model. Those two models are compared using the phase- and principle-based model as comparator criteria.International university partnership development in a Japanese context is another key theme. This thesis examines the state of international partnerships recently developed by Japanese universities. It makes a comparison of the current situation of Japanese universities using the best identified management model. At present, the most popular type of international partnership in Japanese higher education is that of a DDP, which is a basic and task-specific type of partnership. Many universities around the world are developing DDP partnerships. Such partnerships are therefore appropriate for a case study of a standard management approach. To examine the DDP partnerships developed by a Japanese university, this thesis focuses on the case of Kyushu University, Japan and its partners; the aim is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a basic and task-specific partnership model with respect to current and future circumstances.This thesis studies the strategic alliance between Monash University and the University of Warwick for the best management approach. The Monash Warwick Alliance is an advanced comprehensive partnership with diverse projects involving wide range of stakeholders including researchers, educators, students, administrators, and outside stakeholders. Considering its broad range of scope and stakeholders, it could embrace greater complexity in terms of management, thereby more mature and sophisticated management structures and processes could be required.Based upon understanding the essential features of the best management approach, this thesis attempts to figure out whether and how the limitations of a partial and task-specific DDP partnership, could be rectified and provide recommendations for universities in Japan to aid the further advancement of their international partnership projects and the overall internationalisation of universities. Possible improvements suggest that their management structure should possess the capability to steer and coordinate a partnership by developing accountable management structures and implementing effective communication and information strategies, developing a vigorous system of quality and performance review, creating a mechanism to institutionalise learning, and integrating expertise in the management structures and processes.
Date of Award30 May 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJohn Davies (Supervisor)


  • Internationalisation of higher education
  • International partnerships
  • Japanese higher education
  • Management models
  • Building a partnership
  • Consolidation and catalysing maturity
  • A positive cycle
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Learning capacity
  • Entrepreneurial universities

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