International strategic alliances are notorious for their high failure rate. Increased inter-partner conflict resulting from ineffective cross-cultural management is perceived to be one of the key reasons for unsatisfactory alliance performance. Driven by globalization, universities are extending into foreign markets through the establishment of various types of strategic alliances (SAs). Through an empirical investigation, this study reveals that although cultural differences (CDs) exist in China–UK higher education (HE) SAs their impact depends on the structure of the SA. Although cultural conflicts occur more frequently in equity joint ventures than in non-equity modes, the impact of conflict arising from CDs is more serious and significant in non-equity arrangements. Moreover, partners perceive CDs as sources of mutual interest. The findings imply that the negative impact of CDs can be ameliorated to varying degrees depending on the type of China–UK HE SA.
- China–UK; Cultural difference; Higher education; Strategic alliances