Values and Behaviours of an Effective Community of Practice: A Case for Staff/Student Social Collaboration for Internationalisation

Alison Pearce, Lynne Powell, Caroline Burns, Nada Zupan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Based on our own values, developed either by nature or nurture or by both, the work presented here takes as its premise the notion that positive benefits can accrue from international and cross-cultural experiences (1). We formally acknowledge our bias in favour of internationalisation as a 21st century imperative for institutions of HE (2). In common with other public service providers, universities suffer constrained autonomy, disputed values and aims, and increasing performance demands (3). ‘New managerialism’ in the public sector is a term referring to “ideologies” and the “actual use”(4) of private sector practice, technology and values. However, values of internationalism and the ideals of international co-operation, aim for a world order of peace and social justice. Connecting three apparently disparate areas are the assertions that values, attitudes and ethics, clustered by some under ‘culture’, are prominent not only in comprehensive internationalisation strategy but also in entrepreneurial and innovative behaviour (5). The effect of values and beliefs on university decision making is strong (6). Sporn defined the ‘strength’ of a university culture as the degree of fit between values, structure and strategy (7). Bartell requires that internationalisation utilises the power of the culture within which it occurs (6). Knight (8) suggests that improved intercultural understanding in graduates, is regarded as a strong and legitimate motive for internationalisation by many academics. Simons (9) names the first of his four ‘levers of control’ ‘beliefs systems’ which are the values, mission and credos of the organisation. Peters & Waterman (10) explain that better-performing companies have a well-defined articulation of values and also the content of those values, which makes the difference. It can be argued that the ‘clearly competing agendas’ (11) of globalisation (marketisation) and internationalisation (values) could be reconciled by the fact that internationally-minded students, high quality staff and desirable institutional partners will be attracted only by ‘truly’ internationalised organisations that have followed the holistic, comprehensive route. Instead, the rise of managerialism has pushed universities into trying to adopt a planned approach to internationalisation, working entirely against the predominant values of academics. Schumpeter’s defnition of “pure” entrepreneurship (12): “the doing of new things or the doing of things that are already done in a new way” emphasises the value of autonomy and flexibility, similar to ‘academic freedom’ and therefore appealing to the strong values of many university staff. Management is increasingly a cultural rather than technical activity (13). This article describes an experiment in the UK to establish a “campus community” (14). It is an idea for multicultural campuses to develop spaces for the ‘non-mobile majority’ to experience difference on the way to global citizenship. Here we reflect on the experience, in which outcomes are affected by the depth of student engagement, which is in turn related to fundamental motivations for and attitudes towards learning, employment and internationalism: the students’ values. The “campus community” developed into a full structure of “communities of practice” or social collaborations, often digitally-based, and peer-support, which drove increasing levels of engagement in international activity by students. Highly-engaged students and staff shared values and spread them more widely through a network of communication, transforming the experience of others. Thematic analysis of this initiative leads us to identify different forms of motivation, levels of engagement and entrepreneurial behaviour in both students and staff, combining to define a set of values and behaviours driving a social collaboration’s culture and performance.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2016
EventThe 2016 International Conference on Social Collaboration and Shared Values in Business - Chonnam National University, Gwangju, Korea
Duration: 23 Jan 2016 → …


ConferenceThe 2016 International Conference on Social Collaboration and Shared Values in Business
Period23/01/16 → …
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