This contribution aims to look beyond the standard emphases on internationalisation as recruitment, mobility, reputation or curriculum, to initiate a more dynamic and theoretically innovative approach to thinking about internationalisation. We take an inter-disciplinary approach, drawing on differing starting points for internationalisation in contrasting subject groupings – business, economics and law on the one hand, and the traditional humanities and social sciences on the other. We begin by re-imagining internationalisation as a continuum (Clifford and Joseph, 2005) with economic internationalisation at one pole, and transformational internationalisation at the other.
Transformational internationalisation involves paradigm shifts, which occur as our activities challenge us to view internationalisation from different perspectives, and learn something new. ‘Transactional’ internationalisation places the focus on commodified market exchanges (e.g., Schapper and Mayson, 2004) which have the advantage of being measurable, but fail to capture qualitative changes or ‘learnings’, which are more difficult to describe and measure. We use the idea of ‘transformational’ internationalisation to characterise internally-oriented learning dynamics, with the potential to challenge, and transform, identities on an institutional, macro scale, as well as on the individual micro level.
We interrogate the ‘transactional-transformational’ continuum of internationalisation, by drawing in debates about internationalisation and ethics. We adapt insights from transformative learning theory, probably the most influential and widely used theory of adult learning to ask about the possibilities for learning and transformation on a wider, institutional canvas. Throughout the internationalisation continuum stands the central question of identity and values. We explore the dynamics of identity and values in internationalisation via a discussion of branding, focusing on ethical branding as a key aspect of internationalisation in practice.