Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Katalin Szelényi

Second Advisor

Gerardo Blanco Ramirez

Third Advisor

Francine Menashy


Within the context of U.S. higher education, market forces inform institutional strategies at public and private universities alike (Rhoades & Slaughter, 2006). Despite existing studies on market-driven forces in the internationalization and transnationalization of U.S. higher education (Knight, 2004; Marginson, 2012; Rhoades, Lee and Maldonado-Maldonado, 2005; Stromquist, 2007), there is a relative lack of theoretical or methodological engagement with how the theory of academic capitalism informs our understanding of the dominance of market-driven strategies in internationalization and how those strategies and practices blur the boundaries between the market and the public good. Furthermore, no studies have explored how the intersection and coexistence of the public good and academic capitalism shapes universities’ internationalization strategies and approaches.

Using social constructivist grounded theory methodology, this study considered how the “public” and “private” nature of two U.S. higher education institutions shaped their conceptualization of internationalization, and how academic capitalism and the public good rationales intersect in internationalization strategies. The study revealed that institutional strategies are shaped by both conflictual coexistence and complementary coexistence of public good- and market-driven rationales in the areas of market-driven approaches in internationalization as well as transnational applied research, community engagement, and emerging critical perspectives in internationalization. Conflictual coexistence produced several consequences and risks, including unequal access, cultures of exclusion, and lack of evaluation and assessment. This study also suggests that complementary coexistence strategies produce several unconventional and non-normative strategies, such as critical transnational pedagogies, the democratization of internationalization, multisector partnerships, and better collaboration and cooperation between organizational units.

Drawing on these findings, this study informed a grounded theory of intersectional internationalization. Intersectional internationalization builds upon the theory of academic capitalism by positing internationalization as a site of intersection that blurs the boundaries between the public and private, market- and public good-driven approaches, and the local and global through complementary and conflictual coexisting public good-driven and market-shaped strategies. This framework of intersectional internationalization as a contested, conditional site of intersection comprised of conflictual coexistence and complementary coexistence can inform more critical educational, social, and policy strategic choices and outcomes among U.S. higher education leaders engaged in internationalization.