Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

The Internationalisation of Emerging Market Higher Education Providers: Exploring Transnational Provision

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

The Internationalisation of Emerging Market Higher Education Providers: Exploring Transnational Provision

Article excerpt


The delivery of transnational higher education by emerging market providers is a relatively new phenomenon. While much has been written about mainly British, U.S. and Australian providers delivering higher education programs offshore, this paper explores the transnational delivery of education by two universities from emerging markets: Mexico's Sistema Tecnológico de Monterrey (Tec de Monterrey) and Malaysia's Limkokwing University of Creative Technology. By developing a comprehensive listing of the universities' transnational engagement and motivations, and comparing them to traditional and contemporary firm internationalisation theories, the paper is able to highlight some of the key similarities and differences between the theory and practise in the context of emerging market transnational education providers. The paper finds that, despite the unique character of the sector, the patterns of internationalisation of Sistema Tecnològico de Monterrey and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology are similar to those of firms in other industries. Furthermore, recent theories explaining the internationalisation of developing country multinationals help to understand the speed at which both universities have internationalised and some of the business and non-business advantages gained from delivering programs abroad.

Keywords: Transnational Education; Internationalisation, Emerging Markets, Internationalisation Theories, Higher Education, Mexico, Malaysia.


Transitional education (TNE) is defined as "any teaching or learning activity in which the leaners are in a different country (the host country) to that in which the institution providing the education is based (the home country)" (Gate, 1997:1). Since the early 1990s, TNE has been critical in delivering educational services in countries where demand for quality higher education has outstripped supply. While institutions from developed countries deliver the vast majority of TNE, this research aims to explore the emerging trend of developing country institutions providing transnational education. The paper will focus on the characteristics of the Sistema Tecnològico de Monterrey (Tec de Monterrey) and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (Limkokwing)'s expansion into the TNE space and attempt to identify possible motivations for this expansion in relation to traditional firm internationalisation theory. The paper will use the term transnationalisation in order to distinguish between expansion into transnational delivery of educational programs and internationalisation, which in the context of higher education, can encompass aspects such as international mobility of students and international research collaboration.

Tec de Monterrey currently has seven offshore campuses in Latin America and the United States. Its international presence also includes ten International Linkage Offices in the United States, Europe and Asia; online courses delivered to students in various countries; and alliances with several foreign universities and community-based institutions for TNE delivery. Limkokwing's international presence is also significant, with campuses in Asia, Africa and the United Kingdom, as well as TNE partnerships with several foreign educational institutions.

The research will employ a cross-case study methodology using secondary sources in order to contribute to the existing literature (Reddy & Agrawal, 2012). The data collected on Tec de Monterrey and Limkokwing's transnationalisation will be analysed and discussed within the context of firm internationalisation theory. The main research question of this study is as follows: Can existing firm internationalisation theories describe how and why universities from emerging markets provide transnational education? The paper concludes that Tec de Monterrey and Limkokwing's transnationalisation can partly be explained by current firm internationalisation theories, but that the effects of non-business objectives have also influenced their decisions. …

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