Higher Learning Research Communications

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The goal of this study is to explore the challenges of international collaboration in higher education activities in Japan by identifying the management frameworks and elements necessary to run sustainable, quality-assured, internationally collaborative activities. Internationalization was examined from three perspectives: collaboration between a university’s headquarters and its departments, program management, and quality assurance. A qualitative case study design was used that involved interviews with 48directors of collaborative international higher education programs. Regarding intra-university collaboration, it was found that there were four major system types divided into eight subtypes: 1. Top-down; (A) Leaving the job to departments, (B) Control, and (C) Ownership; 2. Bottom-up; (A) Approval and (B) Independent; 3. Acting as one; and 4. Cooperation; (A) Regional and (B) Field. The most frequent subtype was “Approval” and the most successful subtype was “Independent.” Regarding program management, many institutions have mature systems, but even these systems found it difficult to achieve accreditation by external agencies. To enable Japanese higher education institutions to survive in the global market, central leadership that encourages departmental independence is necessary. Entrepreneurialism, whereby not only executives but also academics and administrators explicitly seek out new strategies is a key element in Japanese higher education institutions.