Institutionalizing university social responsibility: insights from Lebanese private universities

Makki, Dania Hachem (2023) Institutionalizing university social responsibility: insights from Lebanese private universities. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This study aims to establish a rationale for private universities in Lebanon to invest in university social responsibility (USR) institutionalization as a solution to their multifaceted challenges. The rising global challenges are heightening universities’ accountability to contribute to societal welfare, innovation, and economic development. Concurrently, universities have been distracted by focusing on their rankings and finding new sources of income due to constrained public funding and competition. This has widened the gap between universities and their communities, depriving both of the impact of universities’ social engagement.

This research grounded in the Stakeholder Theory, adopts a critical realist qualitative approach and thematic analysis to analyze the data collected through twenty-five in-depth interviews with participants representing students, alumni, faculty, staff, and executive officers at the Lebanese American University, selected for its accessibility and relevance.

The study affirms USR’s positive impact on enrolment and funding enhancement. Other effects of USR encompass a transformational effect on involved individuals, a better perception of the institution, and a stronger relationship between university and its stakeholders. Tailored communication strategies appear vital to raise USR awareness, and conditional to increase engagement and maximize outcomes. The findings provide a solid argument to drive USR implementation, as a unique opportunity to address major university challenges at once.

This research integrates the ‘old’ and ‘new’ literature on universities’ social engagement through an extensive review of the various concepts across centuries. It contributes to the USR literature through the newly established relationship among USR, enrolment, and funding enhancement, with awareness as a moderator, in a uniquely challenging national context. It extends the applicability of Stakeholder Theory to higher education, with a focus on its normative aspect, and the feasibility of creating value to all stakeholders without exception. Also, it contributes to practice by motivating a voluntary or policy-driven USR implementation across university functions, building on the inherent base, aligning and synergizing all efforts, and optimizing the available financial and human resources, supported with targeted communication strategies, to maximize outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: University Social Responsibility (USR), universities in crisis, university stakeholder relations, Lebanese higher education system
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
X900 Others in Education
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
University Services > Graduate School > Professional Doctorate
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2023 08:33
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2023 16:43

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