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Dynamic managerial capabilities: the case of international student recruitment at the UK higher education institutions

Akhtar, Imran (2017) Dynamic managerial capabilities: the case of international student recruitment at the UK higher education institutions. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The thesis explores and examines the role of dynamic managerial capabilities as they apply to the international student recruitment efforts at The United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions (UK HEIs). Although dynamic capabilities literature has attracted a fair amount of attention, the relationship between the dynamic managerial capabilities and firm performance have been under-explored in prior research, in particular in the context of UK HEIs. This study affords an opportunity to forge a link between theory and practice. The study takes a mixed methods research approach to data collection. First, a large panel data set was acquired from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). The dataset was refined by focusing on 100 UK HEIs with students from 100 countries studying within 15 subject disciplines. This is then substantiated with research, student employability and student satisfaction rankings data. Furthermore, a survey of middle to senior managers responsible for internationalisation from 165 UK HEIs produced a response rate of 20% (n = 31). Fourth, a large British university is selected for interviews and qualitative data collection. Middle to senior managers were interviewed using semi-structured interviews (n = 10) to assess how they sense the need for change and to determine some of the mechanisms used in opportunity recognition and capture. While the results confirm the importance of resource-based explanations when assessing the performance of UK HEIs. In that founding history, university rankings, reputation and location are key determinants, especially for the Russell Group universities. The results indicate that dynamic managerial capabilities, as latent variables, are also important. Within-group performance differences exist despite the degree of resource parity. Evidence was mixed in respect of the effectiveness of dynamic managerial capabilities in the international function; with some respondents claiming that intervention from senior management teams is often limited in their effect. The thesis is one of a small but growing number of empirical studies on dynamic managerial capabilities. In keeping with other studies in this emerging field, it has had to face several methodological challenges. The mixed methods approach is used as one means of meeting some of these challenges.

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