International collaborations in social work education are increasing without an adequate understanding of what motivates them, and what sorts of outcomes they produce. The existing research on such collaborations has often focused on examining collaborations only from the perspective of those in Europe and North America. This study presents the results of in-depth qualitative interviews with a sample of 25 individuals representing students, faculty, and administrators at two case study pairs of social work institutions.
In each case study, one of the institutions is located in the Midwestern United States, and the other in West Africa. The study utilized an integrated theoretical framework including elements of critical theory, social network analysis, and the theory of collaborative advantage. Results show significant differences in motivations for the pursuit of international collaborations between individuals at various levels within institutions and by the type and location of institutions. Institutions use international collaboration in order to compete both locally and globally for students, faculty, and resources. Students are motivated to pursue international collaborations in order to develop themselves and their professional opportunities. The results suggest that more attention needs to potential differences in motivations for collaboration, and to the models social worker use to pursue them.