This research supports some of the mounting pressures higher education practitioners face in approaching innovation strategically while recognizing the mission-driven needs of the institution. Two research questions were examined. First, how do highly innovative universities balance traditional missions and innovation? Second, how do mission statements project isomorphic or distinctive rhetoric? This research was grounded in institutional theory given its relevancy to assessing the debate over legitimizing tendencies, such as symbolism and signaling. For the research design, the unit of analysis was at the institutional level, specifically, 85 of the top 100 international universities recognized for innovation by Reuters that have publicly accessible mission statements. For Phase I, content/archival sourcing of mission statements allowed for concept and in vivo coding using ATLAS.ti CAQDAS software. In Phase II, quota sampling was used to more deeply explore six universities: University of Tokyo, National University of Singapore, Stanford University, Harvard University, University of Oxford and KU Leuven. Most universities featured fell closer to central tendencies which would suggest isomorphism in projecting the scope of their mission statements. The National University of Singapore varied most strongly with the least descriptive rhetoric. Phase II allowed for the incorporation of a qualitative investigation – for instance, Oxford’s intentional reference to innovation as opposed to Harvard focused solely on traditional mission. This exploratory study piques research interest to pursue additional studies such as investigating the strategic plan alignment with missions and investigating explanatory, causal studies.
Kate Montgomery, Southern Methodist University, United States
Stream: Educational policy
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