In the age of COVID-19 and a global pandemic, international collaborations have become as important as ever to solve complex societal challenges of which universities play important roles. In fact, transnational university collaborations beyond institutional walls extend knowledge and resources to drive innovative change for large-scale economic and social progress that would not be possible to the same extent on an individual university level. This research examines how international universities discuss transnational collaborations in strategic plans and other prominent and publicly accessible communications. To begin, research was grounded in institutional theory by conducting a content analysis of select strategic plans with prominent featuring of university collaborations as a means of assessing legitimization and signaling efforts. Then, a social network analysis was conducted for particular universities that prominently projected transnational collaborations as a means of sensemaking from each institution’s perspective. The findings suggest that universities prominently feature transnational partnerships in publicly available communication. When conducting a social network analysis, transnational partnerships overlap and vary from institution to institution. Supporting discourse provides insights into the strategies and programming for particular collaborations (e.g., Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Medical School and the International Alliance of Research Universities to include member institutions from Asia, Europe, the United States, Australia, and Africa published by NUS and Yale University respectively). This study creates future research opportunities such as investigating the potential emergence of additional transnational partnerships at the university level. Additional opportunities exist for collaborative international research at the individual level among multiple principal investigators.
Kate Montgomery, Southern Methodist University, United States