Globalization and organizational reform: A case study of internationalization within Japanese Catholic higher education

Michael Richard Polito, Fordham University


This single case qualitative study was conducted at Sophia University, the Jesuit university of Tokyo. Its focus is the examination of institution-wide internationalization as a change strategy for developing global human resources at a major Catholic university within Japanese higher education reform. One-on-one interviews were conducted across four participant categories representing senior leadership, administrative leaders, support administrators, and faculty, along with participant observation and document analysis for data collection. The findings discuss organizational changes implemented by executive leaders in an effort to globalize the university and a determination of whether the strategy employed is historically congruent with the institution’s Catholic Jesuit identity and values. Results indicate that leadership has set a course for institutional change and renewal that aligns with government reform initiatives and therefore are responsive to perceived social needs. Given the ambitious scope of organizational change, however, the restructuring of administrative units for internationalization at the time of this study has not reached a mature stage of optimal differentiation, efficiency, and organizational identity within the university system. Lastly, university leadership is demonstrating a renewed fidelity to and greater expansion of its Catholic Jesuit mission by creatively interpreting government reform directives in a manner that suites its Christian humanist tradition. Sophia is pursuing a course of university-wide internationalization that orients students towards humanitarian concerns and career considerations in the areas of international cooperation, peacekeeping, and development; a choice for a humanitarian lens that strengthens its institutional character and brand differentiation within the private higher education market in Japan.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration

Recommended Citation

Polito, Michael Richard, "Globalization and organizational reform: A case study of internationalization within Japanese Catholic higher education" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10000739.