Lebanese Private Higher Education and Its Societal Contributions: Institutional Cultures, Drivers and Barriers

  • Wael Mekdach

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


This thesis explores the development of private higher education in Lebanon. The Lebanese private higher education market illustrates distinctive traits such as a large number of private institutions, diverse academic and nonacademic institutional drivers, and varying levels of societal contributions across the sector. It is evident that Lebanese society could benefit from the contributions from private higher education in terms of economic, educational and social development. This study investigates the ability of private universities to respond systematically to a changing environment, given the prevailing cultures of these universities. This thesis addresses the topic through the collection of qualitative data from interviews and focus groups. The research has been designed upon the notion of grounded theory. An analysis of the current organizational cultures amongst the prevalent institutions takes place through examining four distinctive private HEIs as a sample that represents the whole market. Research participants include faculty and staff members, HEI leaders, students, government officials and human resources executives from the private sector. Further, analysis of the values, drivers, contributions and the relationship between these notions takes place thus addressing the Lebanese case from a cultural point of view. In addition to the analysis of institutional culturesand their operational manifestations, the concept of the entrepreneurial and adaptive university and its characteristics is used to frame discussions on the evidence and on possible lines of development for the universities and their partners to enhance societal contributions. This thesis identifies gaps in the existing literature on private higher education that have failed to explain developments in the Lebanese context. The Lebanese private higher education market demonstrates immature and noncompetitive traits, while coupled with a lack of academic drive. The presence of nonacademic objectives has detracted most private institutions from making a substantial contribution to society. Specifically, theoretical framings of organizational culture are inadequate in illuminating the traits and behaviors of private HEIs in Lebanon. Further, theories about the development and implementation of an entrepreneurial culture in private HEIs are described in the Lebanese setting and their limitations are highlighted, this is done through examining traits of Lebanese private entrepreneurial universities currently in operation. Finally, recommendations are presented in the final chapter of this thesis based on the results and findings of the research.
Date of Award4 Nov 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJack Lee (Supervisor), Dan Davies (Supervisor) & John L Davies (Supervisor)


  • Higher Education
  • Institutional Culture in higher education
  • entrepreneurial university
  • Lebanon
  • Lebanese universities
  • private higher education
  • higher education contributions
  • higher education drivers

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