The Influence of Intercultural Competence on the Experiences of International Branch Campus Administrators



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The international branch campus (IBC) plays a unique and important role in the globalization efforts of higher education institutions. Prior research identified and explored the challenges, motivations, and strategies exclusive to the IBC structure; however, there is limited research available regarding the experiences of administrators who oversee programs and operations, and contribute to the leadership of international branch campuses. This study explored the experiences of IBC administrators, how they are supported in their roles, and how they utilized intercultural competence to transition to live and work in a foreign country. An instrumental case study research design was applied, and observations, memos, and semi-structured interviews with 14 participants were utilized to gather data from a single site hosting several IBCs. Four global themes emerged through a thematic analysis process. The findings of this study revealed specific intercultural competence skills that administrators found important to their transition to an IBC and the influence participants’ experiences had upon their intercultural competence development. Furthermore, this study revealed a lack of home campus training and support for IBC administrators and the impact this had on participants’ abilities to effectively conduct their duties and manage their transition experiences. This study includes an examination of the available literature regarding IBCs, globalization of higher education, global management skills, intercultural competence, and culture and concludes with a discussion of the findings, limitations, and recommendations for practice and research. This research is informed by a multidisciplinary approach, drawing from business, education, and psychology literature. As intercultural competence is developmental and can be learned, studies should continue to explore the issues IBC administrators face and raise awareness about how institutions can support the development of intercultural competence in their administrators.



Global higher education, Global higher education administrators, Intercultural competence, International branch campus leaders, International branch campuses, Transnational managers