Understanding Convergence and Divergence in the Internationalization of Higher Education from a World Society Perspective

Renze Kolster, Don Westerheijden

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


    This chapter suggests that that the similarities in approaches to internationalization lead to convergence across higher education systems, actual practices and governance arrangements also show continued divergence. By adopting a cultural / phenomenological approached as part of the world society theory perspective (Meyer et al., 1997), this chapter aims to provide a cultural rather than a functional explanation for the remarkable degree of convergence, while not losing sight of divergence. Taking this cultural perspective to both frame and explain the proliferation of the internationalization discourse in higher education — and the resulting convergence and divergence — has, to the best of our knowledge, not been done before in the academic literature. To further our understanding of the internationalization discourse and the implications for governance of higher education, we ask the following research question: how can the rationales and practices underpinning the internationalization of higher education be understood from a world society perspective? To answer this question, we first outline the world society theory. We then highlight patterns of convergence, followed by signs of divergence, in rationales and practices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationConvergence and diversity in the governance of higher education: Comparative perspectives
    EditorsGiliberto Capano, Darryl S. L. Jarvis
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages27
    ISBN (Print)978-1-108-48396-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • Internationalisation
    • World society theory
    • Higher Education


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