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Strategic marketing planning in international schools

Tristan Bunnell (Copenhagen International School, Copenhagen, Denmark)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 1 January 2005




International schools are a growing class of educational institution. It has been suggested that few schools of this type have a marketing plan whilst research into development planning showed that few had a long‐range plan. This paper aims to investigate these issues.


This paper deals with a survey of 32 international schools in 22 different countries. The public relations practitioner in each was questioned as to the nature of the marketing planning process.


Half of the schools had a marketing plan. Few had a one‐year one, and few had a cyclical one with stages. Several had dispensed with such a plan. The major aim of marketing planning was to attract more students. There was little evidence of it being a strategic process. Few schools involved the whole school body.

Research limitations/implications

This involved a small‐scale survey of international schools at a time when student numbers were high. This survey failed to take into account the growth of this type of school in mainland China.

Practical implications

It is suggested that perhaps some international schools might focus more on non‐rational planning and scenario‐building techniques. Making more contact with the local community might also be beneficial as a strategic marketing aim.


This paper furthers the understanding of the nature and organizational culture of international schools. It builds upon earlier research into development planning in this type of school.



Bunnell, T. (2005), "Strategic marketing planning in international schools", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 59-66.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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