An analysis of the effects of globalization on the restructuring of higher education in Thailand

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Filbeck, David Ambros

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This study is an ethnographic multiple case study analysis of restructuring in Thailand’s public higher education system. The analysis uses a global political economy approach to determine the extent to which globalization plays a part in the restructuring process. The literature covering the role of globalization in the restructuring of national higher education systems contains few site-based studies of colleges and universities in non-western countries. Using a multiple site case study design, the research examined the Thai Ministry of University Affairs and three universities in Thailand that had undergone restructuring or were in the process of restructuring. The study found that although globalization did play a role in the restructuring of the three institutions, it was not the irresistible force that many claim it to be. The study confirms the theory that globalization is vulnerable to cultural and social factors. This does not mean that globalization is not a force to be reckoned with. Globalization continues to play an important role in the restructuring of Thailand’s higher education system albeit at a pace and in a direction that is culturally determined. The aspect of market/economic ideology is still present, but in the context of how the market/economy operates within the local culture. It is perhaps erroneous, then, to suggest that globalization is the evangelistic outreach of western ideology around the world. It is possible to theorize that globalization is concerned with understanding how a given society/culture uses and manipulates indigenous market/economy strategies in order to accomplish political and economic goals in that society.