The internationalization and strategic planning of higher-education institutions: An analysis of Finnish EPS strategies

    Research output: ThesisLicenciate's thesis


    This licentiate study examined different understandings of the internationalisation of higher-education institutions (HEis) and presented a holistic model of planning for internationalisation. The internationalisation of higher-education institutions has expanded because of EU programmes such as Erasmus, Socrates and Leonardo. Completely new processes have emerged and new professional groups have been born. Earlier research has been quite dispersed, and no concensus of the meaning of internationalisation has existed. On the other hand, management studies on the internationalisation of higher-education institutions are few. This study analysed the concept or internationalisation in the context of higher-education institutions, and according to the concepts of Knight, van der Wende and Luostarinen & Pulkkinen. The differences from the neighbouring concepts of internationalism, international education, international business, Europeanisation and globalisation were highlighted. A pragmatic way of thinking was adopted. It was argued that, in order to fulfil the aims of internationalisation, the process must be planned systematically and holistically, but this cannot be done if the nature and characteristics of the process of the internationalisation of higher-education institutions is not understood. A framework of holistic strategic management was presented and adapted to the internationalisation of HEis. The Finnish European Policy Statements (EPS strategies) were chosen as an example of the clearly present planning function. They offered material that was more or less the same for all of the institutions. The EPS strategy documents of the whole population of Finnish higher-education institutions, i.e. 20 universities and 24 polytechnics, each 1 - 4 pages, drawn up in 1996 and 2000, were analysed. This study makes three types of theoretical contributions. First, it contributes to our understanding of the concept of internationalisation in itself, and with reference to the neighbouring concepts. Second, it proposes a theoretical framework for the internationalisation process of higher education, consisting of the definition of internationalisation and of an integrated understanding of the phenomenon and its planning, as part of holistic management. This understanding is split into eight propositions, of which the first one proposes that recent internationalisation seemed to evolve through five stages, and the other seven concern the different aspects of the holistic planning of internationalisation as part of holistic management. Third, the empirical contribution of the study was the population analysis of internationalisation planning, the unit of analysis being the European Policy Statements drawn up by the higher-education institutions. This analysis contributed to our understanding of the holistic situation of internationalisation in Finnish HEis. It was found that the strategic thinking shown in the plans is not very extensive, or very deep. As a managerial implication it is claimed that it is of vital importance to have a common understanding of internationalisation in order to be able to plan it. The integrated framework could be of help in developing the procedures of internationalisation.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationLicentiate's degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Helsinki School of Economics
    • Luostarinen, Reijo, Supervising Professor, External person
    • Seristö, Hannu, Supervising Professor
    Place of PublicationHelsinki
    Print ISBNs951-791-623-X
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-488-173-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2001
    MoE publication typeG3 Licentiate thesis


    • Universities
    • Higher-education institutions
    • Education
    • Internationalisation
    • Strategic management
    • European policy statements
    • University colleges
    • Planning


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