Introduction to special issue of International Journal of Public Sector Management

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 2 March 2010



Foskett, N. (2010), "Introduction to special issue of International Journal of Public Sector Management", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 23 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Introduction to special issue of International Journal of Public Sector Management

Article Type: Introduction From: International Journal of Public Sector Management, Volume 23, Issue 2

The emergence of higher education as a significant sector of the global service economy has been a characteristic of the last two decades. From a position of “domestication” (Carlson, 1975), where survival was guaranteed by government central funding and competition for students was genteel and selective, universities have become part of a “wild” environment (Carlson, 1975) operating in a competitive, marketised arena – as Teixeira et al. (2004, p. 1) have indicated, “all across the world, higher education has become a large enterprise”. Higher education is now an international business operating in a global market with some 100,000 institutions describing themselves as universities. At the heart of this development has been a perspective that the key route to expanding higher education effectively and efficiently is the use of market mechanisms.

As the exposure of universities to the market place has grown, many of the fundamental tenets of HE management and leadership have changed. In particular, two key organisational functions have become more significant. Firstly, universities have needed to develop the expertise to undertake marketing activities, with skills ranging from market analysis to promotion and communication becoming important. Secondly, institutional strategy must of necessity engage with the market-driven external environment, so that the whole business of running a university requires a consideration of markets, market positioning and competition. Universities now essentially operate in a context of market accountability rather than other social, cultural or professional accountabilities. University leaders, therefore, require strong skills for the marketplace rather than simply the skill of being the academic primus inter pares.

The young academic field of education marketing has emerged in parallel to this changing educational environment. Rooted in the intellectual traditions of both “educational management and leadership” and “marketing”, it draws in scholars and professional practitioners from both arenas and its intellectual contributions are applied in both fields – it is a strong example of the richness that emerges when disciplines work together and contribute their own distinctive perceptions and conceptions. This special issue of the International Journal of Public Sector Management is important in both presenting a range of stimulating research and in showcasing developments in the broad field of higher education marketing – the papers are the product of contributions to the third International Conference on Higher Education Marketing (ICHEM) held in Poland in 2008, but which is now part of a lengthening conference tradition in the field with more recent conferences in Portugal and in Spain. These are successfully drawing scholars from around the world and providing an important stimulus to the evolution of conceptualisations in HE marketing. The papers presented here address three important dimensions of HE marketing – student (customer) satisfaction, the notion of value and its connection to competitive positioning, and the idea of institutional branding. All three conceptual areas are familiar research themes within the marketing literature but provide provocative challenges when considered in the context of higher education. As such the analysis is helpful both to those operating in university leadership roles but also to those seeking to gain wider and deeper understanding of marketing in different environments.

Future expansion of global higher education is inevitable, with UNESCO predicting a doubling of the numbers of students in universities around the world over the next two decades. Not only will this generate internal competition within countries but the scale of international competition will grow substantially too. Understanding the leadership challenges that will emerge from this will be essential to HE Presidents and national policy makers, and so the need for research in the fields of higher education marketing and internationalisation will be of increasing importance. The emerging literature (e.g. Maringe and Foskett, 2010) will be substantial – and this present collection of papers within this Special Edition makes a significant contribution.

Nick FoskettUniversity of Southampton, Southampton, UK


Carlson, R. (1975), “Environmental constraints and organisational consequences: the public school and its clients”, in Baldridge, J. and Deal, T. (Eds), Managing Change in Educational Organisations, McCutchan, Berkeley, CA

Maringe, F. and Foskett, N.H. (2010), Globalisation and Internationalisation in Higher Education: Theoretical, Strategic and Management Perspectives, Continuum Press, London

Teixeira, P., Jongbloed, B., Dill, D. and Amaral, A. (Eds) (2004), Markets in Higher Education – Rhetoric or Reality?, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht

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