Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Marianne A. Larsen


Using a case study approach, I investigate a very timely and significant policy issue regarding postsecondary education. While internationalization seems to be ubiquitous in universities’ policy rhetoric and statements in the Canadian context, specifically in Ontario, it is unclear what values drive internationalization and how they influence policies and initiatives at a public university in Ontario. Relying on Easton’s approach of policy as the ‘authoritative allocation of values’ and drawing on critical policy analysis, I perceive policy as ‘the practice of values’. The critical policy approach and the centrality of values in analysis require a consideration be given not only to what values are represented, but to understanding whose values are represented and whose voices are missing in internationalization activities and related policy statements.

By interrogating policy perceptions conveyed through interviews with university administrators and faculty, and reflected in policy statements and administration rhetoric, this study found the emergence and presence of two major discourses of values driving internationalization policies: liberal-academic and neoliberal-instrumental. The liberal-academic discourse is constituted by two sets of values: educational/academic and multicultural/humanitarian. The neoliberal-instrumental discourse is also comprised of two other sets: market-based and competition-based values. Moreover, the findings support there is a significant gap between the meaning of internationalization in theory and its perception in practice. From a critical point of view, internationalization is rhetorically (in theory) acknowledged as ideological components, and literally (in practice) recognized as different realistic components with some pragmatic rationales. Additionally, although participants from different administrative positions and faculties share the same values regarding the necessity of internationalization, there are significant differences between their perceptions and attitudes about the meanings, rationales, and agendas of internationalization.

The study shows the gradual extension of commercial logic and market values that historically have been absent from traditional university policies in Ontario to educational initiatives and academic values. The study recommends internationalization initiatives require harmony and a dynamic balance between the two identified discourses of values. There is, therefore, an imperative need to maintain balance in the global market of internationalization and to protect academic and humanitarian values and rationales of postsecondary education.