In international development the strategy of cross-border university-to-university partnerships is drawing more attention. Funders such as U.S. Agency for International Development are offering large amounts of financial support for the development of university partnerships, networks, and consortiums. Despite the money that is going into university partnerships and networks, there is only limited research on whether this strategy is effective.
This study was conducted at Makerere University, the oldest university in East Africa. Makerere has been engaged with international partners in scores of partnerships, making it an ideal setting to look for perspective on the process and impact of university partnerships. Interviews were conducted with 38 faculty members and content analysis tied what faculty said back to a four-stage model based on literature on partnership development. The first stage of the model focuses on initiation, particularly leadership and motivation. The second stage looks at negotiation of context, the depth of understanding that partners have of where the partnership is based, including organizational structures and the physical and cultural environment. Trust in implementation is the third stage and the final stage is how faculty members evaluate the success of partnerships at their conclusion. In addition to testing the adequacy of the model, this study sought to identify distinctions between partnerships that were internally funded and those that were externally funded.
For the most part, the model proved to be a useful tool to represent the process of partnership. However, there were nuances identified, including the large degree to which faculty are motivated by individual benefits; internal challenges at the university that hinder partnership development and impact; informal faculty mentorship that happens during partnerships; and reinforcement of dependence on external funding. These findings were used to offer revisions to the original partnership development model. In this study, all the partnerships that were described were externally funded; the faculty members who were interviewed provided no examples of successful, internally funded partnerships. Implications that the university participates in only externally funded partnerships may indicate that the partnership strategy does not hold promise for future sustainability.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2012. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: David W. Chapman. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 145 pages, appendices A-C.
Wilson, Elisabeth Anne.
Faculty perceptions of success in cross-border university-to-university partnerships..
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