This paper aims at developing a set of items attempting to operationalize the stakeholder orientation for higher education institutions. Stakeholder orientation is viewed as a more relevant framework for understanding and managing the external pressures exerted on universities. We hence break off with the market orientation framework which has been suggested in previous literature. The paper is based on a literature review on stakeholder orientation and market orientation. Its main outcome is that we add to the scattered literature on stakeholders in higher education, what can be seen as a departing point for the adoption of stakeholder orientation in higher education. The originality of my contribution stands through three points: (1) while a few authors have used the market orientation framework to study changes in higher education, this paper relies on the stakeholder theory to show that stakeholder orientation is more relevant for this sector because it encompasses the market orientation dimensions, and fits to the peculiarities of the above sector. (2) Based on an extensive literature review, the paper makes first paces in suggesting items for the dimensions of stakeholder orientation in higher education. (3) Going beyond competition, I find “collaboration” as an important dimension which was missing in previous strategic analysis of the higher education sector.
Key words: Higher education, stakeholder orientation, collaboration, competition, responsiveness, inter-functional coordination.
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