A case study of one Confucius Institute: a China-U.S. university synergistic collaboration

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Universities have been increasingly engaged in international collaborations with peer institutions overseas. In recent years, Confucius Institutes have emerged as a new model of collaboration between American universities and Chinese

Universities have been increasingly engaged in international collaborations with peer institutions overseas. In recent years, Confucius Institutes have emerged as a new model of collaboration between American universities and Chinese universities. In an attempt to identify factors contributing to successful international university collaborations, this study used the case study method and focused on one Confucius Institute between MMU, an American University, and ZZU, a Chinese university, and intended to identify factors leading to the success of the MMU-ZZU Confucius Institute collaboration. The study investigated the MMU-ZZU Confucius Institute collaboration within the framework of the MMU-ZZU institutional partnership. Based on data collected from the institutional documents, interviews, site visits and news reports, this study examined the experiences and perceptions of the university's stakeholders involved in creating and sustaining this particular Confucius Institute, including stakeholders at the program level, at the college level, and at the institutional level both at MMU and ZZU. Using the glonacal agency heuristics framework, the MMU-ZZU Confucius Institute collaboration was a result of joint forces of stakeholders at the program level, at the college level, and at the institutional level from ZZU and MMU. Stakeholders, no matter what level they are and which institution they are affiliated with, had to navigate through the significant differences between them to develop synergy to be successful. Synergy, including vertical synergy developed among stakeholders within each institution and horizontal synergy developed among stakeholders between institutions, turned out to be critical to the success of the MMU-ZZU CI. The study concluded that synergy in leadership, organizational contexts, stakeholders' resources, and the synergy in the MMU-ZZU Confucius Institute collaboration and the MMU-ZZU institutional partnership, led to the success of the MMU-ZZU Confucius Institute collaboration.