Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

An Analysis of Mission Statements of Tertiary Institutions: Business Colleges in UAE

Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

An Analysis of Mission Statements of Tertiary Institutions: Business Colleges in UAE

Article excerpt


This paper analyzes and discusses the mission of colleges of business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are several reasons for focusing on the specific topic. In the first place, with just around 9.5 million inhabitants, approximately 86% of whom are expatriates, the country boasts over 130 private, public and federal universities and other institutions of higher learning. As for business education in UAE there are 59 business colleges including Australian, British, and American branch campuses, as well as American-styled and Canadian-styled institutions, the latter two offering academic programs based on the North American model. UAE has a higher or roughly the same number of business colleges as other far more populous countries with well-diversified economies such as Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan, or South Korea. The high demand for business education in the country is underlined by the doubling in the number of business colleges over the past 12 years or so and the continuing entry in the market of new local and international institutions. The rapid and still on-going increase in the number of business colleges within a relatively short period of time raises questions regarding possible saturation of the business education sector and the long-term survival of some institutions. At a broader level, the discussion of business education in the UAE is important as the country stands out in the region for its liberal policies on social and economic development. However, despite the proliferation of business colleges a literature review yielded fewer than a handful of studies focusing on business education in UAE and in particular studies discussing issues of business education from the perspective of strategic management.

As far as the concept of 'mission' is concerned there are important questions to consider. Indeed, what is meant by the term 'mission'? Is mission simply what is articulated in the few lines under the same name heading in websites and handbooks of institutions of tertiary education or, is it something broader? Additionally, is mission a single or a composite construct made up of several parts that guide the direction of an institution though they may not always be articulated in its 'mission statement'?

This paper aims to offer a deeper understanding of the mission of business colleges in UAE that goes beyond what one can read in mission statements. To this end, mission is considered a composite construct made up of several components that can be deduced from the examination of various written and visual documents. This is in sharp contrast to previous studies that have treated the mission of an institution as a single, undivided construct and equated it with what is found under that institution's 'mission statement'. In addition to helping understand what a business college is about, its mission, considered from a broader perspective and constructed by examining several documents, can shed light on the strategy followed by the college to establish a presence in the competitive marketplace of higher education. Developing an institution's strategy is crucial as the landscape of higher education is shaped by neo-liberal ideas viewing education as a commodity rather than a human right and a social good while stressing the need for institutions of tertiary education and colleges of business in particular to align, if not indeed to surrender, to market forces.

Literature Review

The inroad of ideas glorifying market forces into spheres of public life and pressure upon institutions of higher education to emulate management practices of private firms has resulted in a growing concern with issues of strategic management in universities (Hazelkorn, 2005; Yokoyama, 2006; Fumasoli and Lepori, 2011; Toma, 2012; Steiner et al., 2013; Sam and Sijde, 2014; Degn, 2015; Oertel and Söll, 2016). Such concern can be clearly seen in the development of a mission statement, considered one of the essential strategic variables in higher education nowadays (Palmer and Short, 2008; Leiber, 2016). …

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