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Higher Education Policy

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This article reports on the findings of a case study about the Canada-Cuba University Partnership (CCUP), a teaching, research and service partnership between individuals associated with a Canadian and Cuban University. The research question guiding the study was: “How do the relationships among individuals in the CCUP shape the partnership?” Our review of existing literature on higher education partnerships reveals the lack of literature focusing on the relationships among individual partnership members. Our study is framed by social capital as our theoretical approach and social network analysis as our methodological approach. These approaches enable us to map out the connections between and among individuals and show the importance of their relationships. We analyze the partnership focusing on social capital, highlighting the mutually-beneficial activities and the role of central actors in the network who contributed to the formation of the partnership and the long-lasting relationships among academics in both countries. Relationships in the CCUP are characterized by mutuality, solidarity, strong and thick ties. The argument we advance is that understanding the collaborative relationships among members of higher education partnerships and the productive capacities of those relationships through the enactment of social capital provides insights into how sustainable and successful partnerships work.


The authors wish to acknowledge that this article was first published by Palgrave MacMillan (part of Springer Nature) in Higher Education Policy. Final published version available at:

Post-prints are subject to Springer Nature re-use terms as set out here:

Citation of this paper:

Larsen, M. A. & Tascon, C. (2018). Social Capital in Higher Education Partnerships: A Case Study of the Canada–Cuba University Partnership. Higher Education Policy, pp. 1-21.

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