International staff mobility in higher education: To what extent could an intra-European entrepreneurial approach be applied to Sino-CEE initiatives?

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The promotion of international staff mobility is a founding principle of the ‘Bologna Process’, designed to create a converged system of higher education across Europe, the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), and in which CEE countries are implicated. Meanwhile, the Chinese government encourages Chinese universities to internationalise and exchange staff, while focussing on Central and Eastern Europe to develop relationships in the EU. A unique, two-phase research methodology was devised to investigate the effects of culture on implementing staff mobility through strategic entrepreneurship and the feasibility of the transfer of such an approach from intra-EHEA mobility to Sino-EHEA mobility. A first-, second and third-person Insider Action Research (AR) approach was used to organise and implement an international staff exchange between universities within the EHEA. Data generated were subjected to a double process of analysis, including a meta-cycle of enquiry. This was followed by a series of in-depth interviews with Chinese academics on exchange in Europe. Data collected were subjected to thematic analysis and then triangulated with the Phase One data. Results showed the importance of individuals in the implementation of strategy. There were marked similarities in the importance of an ‘eco-system of collective interest’, often provided by the exchanger’s family, and in institutional attitudes to supporting these networks. Differences in entrepreneurial intensity between institutions as a result of organisational and national cultures affected the behaviour of individuals and this determines the strategy used to implement the exchange. Evidence of the paradoxical behaviour pattern in China and the significant cultural differences within the EHEA is presented as a starting point for Sino-CEE mobility strategy development: an entrepreneurial intra-EHEA strategy cannot simply be transferred to a Sino-EHEA context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-254
JournalJournal of East European Management Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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