Being distinctive
: university market development strategies away from home

  • Tim Gore

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


British universities have become more strategic about their international market development work over the past two decades and have given considerable attention to the planning and implementation of effective international strategies to achieve this. This study considers the international strategies of a group of four of these universities. The study analyses the accounts of expert practitioners in a variety of roles within the international teams of these universities to uncover the rationales, objectives and methodologies within these strategies. The study uses the theoretical lens of Resource-Based Theory (RBT) and the dynamic capabilities approach to analyse these expert accounts and to make sense of the why and how of the strategic international work being undertaken by these teams within their universities. The why question is addressed in this study through RBT and the findings indicate that the four universities in this study all seek the same set of key resources. The how question is subsequently addressed through the dynamic capabilities approach and thus the study examines how the international teams prioritise several capabilities which allow them to effectively pursue these resources. The dispersed nature of a university means that a great proportion of the time and energy is taken up setting up efficient and effective processes and other internally focussed activities. The study suggests that there is an imbalance between the resources sought and the capabilities developed with considerable bias to the setting up of reliable internal processes which distracts from the externally focussed mission. The complexity of the capabilities developed and the considerable timescales and resource investment involved in major international projects such as campuses help explain the ultimate distinctiveness of each university’s approach. The study is undertaken from a theoretically-informed practitioner perspective and is intended to be of use to practitioners in their own strategic deliberations.
Date of Award27 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJurgen Enders (Supervisor) & Roger King (Supervisor)

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