Monday, September 2, 2013
The Multinational University
Most multinational corporations realize a good share of their of their revenues and profits in non-domestic markets. This article describes some of efforts by several US universities to expand into international markets. In the process they do what most multinational corporations have done to be successful: they adapt their product to meet the needs of the local market. Fast food chains sell their brand and not a particular product. As universities adopt the corporate model they abandon some of the ingredients that have made their brand valuable. In authoritarian countries that discourage freedom of expression universities that are attempting to capitalize their brand have redefined academic freedom which has been essential part of their brand in the US. They support the idea of free thought but they accept the constraints placed upon them by their government sponsors to discourage freedom of expression. NYU or Yale in authoritarian countries will not become centers of student protest movements. The corporate managers in these universities, along with their corporate trustees, may wish that they could modify their domestic market to accept the same definition of academic freedom. They will not get much help from their faculties which have not supported their efforts sell their brand abroad.