Internationalization in a Lagom Culture : A Case Study of a Swedish University

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik

Abstract: This comparative case study examines the timely issue of internationalization of the Swedish higher education system in the context of lagom, a Swedish word which means “not too much, not too little, just the right amount.” This study presents a comprehensive overview of internationalization policies at the international and national levels, and examines their application at the institutional level within a higher education institution in Sweden to determine gaps between policy and practice. The data was gathered through qualitative interviews with students and international university administrators, which provided their perspectives of the current internationalization efforts, as well as a summary of the current internationalization policies at the institution. The interviews pointed to the organizational culture of the university as a factor affecting internationalization, taking Swedish lagom culture into consideration. This discovery is followed by the application of Sporn’s Organizational Culture Typology (1996) to the institution to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the university, and how to harness the strategic management style to better facilitate internationalization and thus increase the number of students pursuing studies abroad. The results suggest that a more centralized organizational university culture is a more effective way to facilitate internationalization. Additionally, the Swedish lagom culture presents a uniquely challenging paradigm for fostering the innovative internationalization agenda in HEIs.

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