Professor Stephen Wilkins

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Stephen Wilkins is Professor of Strategy and Marketing in The British University in Dubai, where he acts as Head of Doctoral Programmes – Business Management, responsible for the Professional Doctorate in Business Management (DBA) and PhD in Business Management. Prior to entering employment in higher education, Stephen’s industrial experience was in retail management in the United Kingdom, where he worked for several companies at branch and regional manager levels. He also has expertise in management development and competence-based training and has worked with companies in the UK, United Arab Emirates and Sultanate of Oman. Stephen received his PhD in Management from the University of Bath, UK. He has supervised more than 200 Master dissertations and projects, and more than 30 PhD students. He has authored more than 100 scholarly works, of which more than 80 are international peer-reviewed journal articles. In the Stanford study of researcher impact 2021, Stephen is ranked in the Top 2% of researchers globally. He has acted as external examiner for several universities worldwide and has previously held visiting professor positions at Hong Kong University, School of Professional and Continuing Education, and Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, Kunming, China.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 35
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    Consumers’ propensity for rollover service contracts: the influences of perceived value, convenience and trust on service loyalty
    (Taylor & Francis, 2023) Wilkins, Stephen; Hazzam, Joe; Megicks, Phil
    Rollover contracts are becoming increasingly commonplace in a range of service markets. Such contracts automatically renew for a further term when a contractual period comes to an end. Rollover contracts represent a unique form of loyalty, because a consumer who signs a rollover contract at the time of initial purchase, signals a commitment to stay loyal to the firm before they have even experienced the service delivery. Prior studies of automatic renewal have predominantly been undertaken in the domain of consumer economics, and the psychological dimension of buyer decision making has yet to be explored. The desire for convenience was found to have the strongest influence on consumers’ propensity for rollover service contracts. Additionally, trust as a mediator of reputation, and perceived value also influence consumers’ attitudes and behavioral intentions for selecting these products. It is concluded that service providers should ensure that consumers recognize that there is an element of reciprocity which is mutually beneficial to both parties in the provision of such contracts.
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    Student retention in higher education: the influences of organizational identification and institution reputation on student satisfaction and behaviors
    (Emerald, 2022) Al Hassani, Amal; Wilkins, Stephen
    Purpose – Universities worldwide struggle to retain students, so it is important to identify the factors that may improve retention levels. The research investigates key factors that have an impact upon student satisfaction and students’ staying and supportive intentions. Of particular interest is the extent to which organizational identification and institution reputation influence student satisfaction and behaviors. Design/methodology/approach – A conceptual model was developed and tested using covariance-based structural equation modeling. The data were obtained from a survey of 419 first year full-time undergraduate students in the United Arab Emirates. Findings – Perceived quality of teaching, organizational identification and institution reputation were found to be significant predictors of student satisfaction in our model, with student satisfaction having both direct and mediating influences on students’ staying and supportive intentions. Originality/value – The research highlights that although perceived quality of teaching has an influence on student satisfaction, the influences of organizational identification and institution reputation are stronger. Practical implications – The findings suggest that universities should undertake activities that strengthen student-university identification and institution reputation, as these may strongly influence students’ attitudes and behaviors. The paper discusses strategies that institutions may implement to develop and maintain organizational identification among students.
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    International marketing capabilities development: the role of firm cultural intelligence and social media technologies
    (Taylor & Francis, 2022) Hazzam, Joe; Wilkins, Stephen
    The purpose of this study is to analyze how firm cultural intelligence and social media technologies influence the international marketing capabilities of multinational enterprise (MNE) regional offices. The data used in the research were obtained from MNE regional offices located in the Emirate of Dubai, which were analyzed using structural equation modelling. The results indicate that firm cultural intelligence and social media technologies have unique and complementary contributions to the development of international marketing capabilities, and these capabilities play an essential role in firm performance by lessening the adverse effects of foreign market turbulence.
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    Academic Careers in Transnational Higher Education: The Rewards and Challenges of Teaching at International Branch Campuses
    (Sage, 2023) Wilkins, Stephen; Annabi, Carrie Amani
    This research investigates the attitudes, working conditions, experiences, and job satisfaction of academic staff employed at offshore campuses. An online survey questionnaire was completed by 72 academic staff in 10 different countries, which included China, Malaysia, Qatar, the UAE, and Vietnam. It was found that the desire for adventure and travel, and to experience a foreign culture, were the most popular motivations for working at an offshore campus. Common challenges and disadvantages of teaching at an offshore campus are the lack of job security, support for research, academic freedom, and opportunities for development and advancement. However, such academics often have motivated students, smaller class sizes, greater autonomy at work, fewer meetings, higher disposable income, and less of the ‘publish or perish’ culture. Almost three quarters of our research participants believe that it is possible to have an attractive career teaching in transnational education, at offshore campuses.
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    Explaining the success of UAE companies globally: the benefits of possessing a ‘can-do’ culture
    (Inderscience, 2021) Wilkins, Stephen; Emik, Serap
    In numerous markets, companies from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are among the global market leaders, and are therefore arguably ‘punching well above their weight’. This research aims to uncover some of the key factors that explain the success of UAE multinational companies. The study adopted an inductive, exploratory qualitative research methodology involving interviews with elite informants who held positions at, or near, the top of their organisational hierarchies. An iterative process of thematic analysis led to the conclusion that UAE firms tend to possess a can-do culture. Although some firms have previously been described as having a can-do culture, researchers have not attempted to identify the underlying components of this culture. We conceptualise a can-do culture as a bundle of firm attributes that together generate firm competitive advantages. The five dimensions of a can-do culture are transformational leadership, market and entrepreneurial orientations, support for innovation, and possession of dynamic capabilities.
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    Institution strategy in transnational higher education: late entrants in mature markets – the case of international branch campuses in the United Arab Emirates
    (Taylor and Francis, 2021) Wilkins, Stephen; Huisman, Jeroen
    Market entry timing strategies have been analysed by numerous scholars, but not in the context of higher education. Although there is to some degree consensus on first mover advantages, the research on late entry has been largely inconclusive. Thus, the purpose of this research was to identify and analyse the different positioning and differentiation strategies adopted by late entry institutions to gain a competitive advantage. The sample consisted of seven campuses established by foreign universities in the UAE between 2012 and 2018. Data were collected from sources freely available in the public domain, such as institution websites, promotional materials and press releases, as well as wider media coverage. Applying a content analysis procedure to institution websites, the results revealed that although the communicated identities and strategies adopted by institutions are largely homogenous, they also implement a range of positioning and differentiation strategies. One of the strongest differentiation strategies appears not related to any part of the marketing mix but to the targeted market segment – specifically, targeting students of a specific nationality. The potential advantages for institutions of a global market segmentation strategy are discussed.
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    Doctoral publishing as professional development for an academic career in higher education
    (Elsevier, 2021) Wilkins, Stephen; Hazzam, Joe; Lean, Jonathan
    The aim of this research is to discover the views, practices and advice of experienced doctoral educators on how doctoral students in the fields of business and management may be encouraged and supported to write for publication, in order to promote their development as future academics. The data used in the study came from an online questionnaire survey completed by 54 individuals worldwide, who teach and/or supervise on doctoral business/management programmes. The job titles of the survey participants include dean, director of doctoral programmes, full/titled/chaired professor, and associate professor. Our survey participants unanimously agree that it is imperative for doctoral students who intend to pursue an academic career in higher education to achieve publications before they graduate, and that institutions and supervisors should share the responsibility to equip students with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to become effective and successful academic authors. The paper concludes with recommendations for students, institutions and supervisors/advisors. To our knowledge, this is the first international study that has explored the attitudes and practices of experienced doctoral educators to doctoral publishing, in the contexts of student development for an academic career, and doctoral supervisors acting as career mentors alongside their supervisory role.
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    Institutional influences on firm strategy in authoritarian emerging economies: mass media companies in the UAE
    (Emerald, 2021) Wilkins, Stephen; Emik, Serap
    Purpose This is one of the first studies to investigate the influences of institutions in an authoritarian regime on the strategies of firms that operate in a potentially sensitive industry. The purpose of this paper is to examine how institutional pressures affect the strategies of multi-platform mass media companies (print, broadcast and internet) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Design/methodology/approach This qualitative study used a purposive sampling strategy to conduct interviews with 28 senior managers who have responsibility for strategic level decision making in a UAE media company. All of the interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. A mainly deductive process of thematic analysis was undertaken to identify key ideas, patterns and relationships in the data. Findings The survey participants reported that increased multi-platform delivery in the media industry brings rewards, challenges and new risks. Although the normative and cultural-cognitive pressures are both strong in the UAE, it is the regulative pressures that seem to have the largest constraining influence on firm decision making and business strategies. The strong institutional pressures existing in the UAE encourage tight coupling, where firm structures and processes are linked and designed in response to the institutional constraints. Evidence was found only of some minor decoupling. Originality/value In response to the authors’ findings, the authors hypothesise that in nations under authoritarian rule, political pressures will likely override all other institutional pressures and that it will be most sensible for firms to adopt tight coupling strategies. However, the success of many UAE firms both at home and internationally suggests that strong institutional constraints do not necessarily act as a barrier to superior firm performance.
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    Two decades of international branch campus development, 2000-2020: A review
    (Emerald, 2021) Wilkins, Stephen
    Purpose – The research aims to assess the achievements and challenges of international branch campuses (IBCs) to date, and to consider how IBC development may progress in the future. Design/methodology/approach – The article presents a review of the scholarly and grey literatures on IBCs. The commentary and discussion is structured around the objectives, perspectives and experiences of three key stakeholder groups, namely the institutions that own IBCs, students and host countries. Findings – Some IBCs have failed to achieve their student recruitment and financial targets, while others have been successful, often expanding and moving into new, larger, purpose-built campuses. In the last few years, several countries have announced their intention to become a transnational education hub, or at least to allow the establishment of IBCs. It may be reasonable to assume that when there is demand for a particular product, supply will eventually follow. IBCs will survive and prosper as long as they provide benefits to each of their main stakeholder groups (i.e., students, institutions and governments), and as long as the local demand for higher education places exceeds the total supply. Originality/value – The article provides a comprehensive and up-to-date review of IBC developments and research during the period 2000-2020. The findings and conclusions will be of interest to both researchers and practitioners.
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    Student experience at international branch campuses
    (2020) Wilkins, Stephen
    Many higher education institutions now have offshore campuses in foreign countries. To attract students in the host country, these international branch campuses typically rely on the parent institution and home country higher education system reputations. Institutions that operate international branch campuses typically claim that the student experience at the offshore campus replicates the onshore home campus experience. Such claims are made even though the majority of offshore campuses lack the scale or financial strength needed to invest in physical infrastructure and resources. This article is a consideration of the extent to which claims of replicability may be true. It is concluded that although institution claims of replicability between onshore and offshore student experience may be somewhat fanciful, it may be reasonable to judge the offshore experience as largely comparable, particularly at the larger branch campuses.
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    Food safety performance in food manufacturing facilities: the influence of management practices on food handler commitment
    (Elsevier, 2020) Taha, Sadi; Wilkins, Stephen; Juusola, Katariina; Osaili, Tareq M.
    The purpose of the study was to investigate the influence of management practices on food handler commitment and, ultimately, food safety performance in food manufacturing facilities. Two focus groups, one with six food handlers and the other with six food safety professionals, were used to develop a conceptual model that measured the effect of management practices on food handler commitment and organizational performance. The fitness of the structural model was measured via a survey with 945 respondents from 189 food manufacturing facilities and official food inspectors in the Emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The study found that training, communication, employee involvement, and organizational management support positively and significantly influenced employee commitment, and employee commitment positively and significantly influenced facilities' food safety performance. These results indicate food handler commitment is a critical factor in the relationship between all of the studied management practices and facilities' food safety performance. The study may have implications for food safety inspectors, enforcement officers, training agencies, and food manufacturing managements to consider human aspects in their work.
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    The positioning and competitive strategies of higher education institutions in the United Arab Emirates
    (Emerald, 2020) Wilkins, Stephen
    Purpose – The purpose of this study is to discover how higher education institutions may segment the market in a competitive higher education hub and to assess the usefulness of strategic group analysis as an analytical technique for market and competitor analysis. As a case example of a competitive higher education market, this research investigates how higher education institutions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) position themselves and compete with one another. Design/methodology/approach – The research relied mainly on secondary data, which were obtained from the websites of institutions and regulatory bodies. Then, hierarchical cluster analysis was used to identify strategic groups and institutional competitive strategies in the UAE higher education market. A panel of experts helped interpret and explain the cluster results. Findings – Eight distinct institutional clusters were identified, which include public and privately owned institutions, as well as elite and specialist institutions. Institution and programme accreditation were found to be particularly important in the UAE market. The institutions in each group appear to operate in a particular market segment, targeting students that have similar needs and wants, and who often share similar demographic features. Practical implications – It is concluded that strategic group analysis may help institutions to evaluate potential markets, select target segments and develop competitive strategies. In the UAE market context, the results demonstrate how institutions may position themselves to create strong and distinctive identities. The results of the research may be of interest to higher education institutions that operate in competitive markets, and particularly those that want to evaluate foreign markets. Originality/value – This is believed to be the first study to use a strategic group approach for analysing competitors in a higher education hub.
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    The role of theory in the business/management PhD: how students may use theory to make an original contribution to knowledge
    (Elsevier, 2019) Wilkins, Stephen; Neri, Selina; Lean, Jonathan
    This research investigates how PhD students learn about theory. The paper offers guidance on how theory may be selected and used by students, and the steps that students may take to achieve the goal of making an original contribution with their research. The data used in this study came from an online questionnaire survey completed by 62 individuals who teach and/or supervise/advise PhD students in business schools. The job titles of participants included Professor, Head of Department, and Director of PhD Programme. Our survey participants reported that high proportions of PhD students struggle to understand the role of theory in their research; how to create a theoretical framework/model; and how to make a theoretical contribution with their research. A majority of the survey participants agreed that students need more teaching on theory and that it is the responsibility of business schools to determine the structure, content and delivery of PhD programmes. Schools must also provide the necessary resources, including academic staff and learning materials. The paper concludes with sets of recommendations for PhD students, educators, and business schools.
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    The acceptance of halal food in non-Muslim countries: effects of religious identity, national identification, consumer ethnocentrism and consumer cosmopolitanism
    (Emerald, 2019) Wilkins, Stephen; Muhammad Mohsin, Butt; Shams, Farshid; Pérez, Andrea
    Purpose – International restaurant and fast food chains such as KFC, McDonalds and Subway currently serve halal food in some non-Muslim countries, with mixed results. The purpose of this research is to identify the factors that most influence the product judgements of halal food among non-Muslim consumers in non-Muslim countries, and to assess the extent to which these judgements are related to willingness to consume halal food. Design/methodology/approach – A quantitative survey method was adopted, using a total sample of 1,100 consumers in Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom. The proposed model was tested using structural equation modelling. Findings – The results suggest that it may be possible for firms to satisfy specific niche market segments with standardised mass market products. Consumer cosmopolitanism and non-Muslim religious identity were found to be positively related to halal product judgement, and consumer ethnocentrism and national identification were negatively related to halal product judgement. There was a strong relationship between product judgement and willingness to consume halal food. Practical implications – The findings indicate that halal marketing may provide promising business opportunities for international restaurant and fast food chains, as well as food manufacturers and retailers. However, in countries or regions where there are many consumers with high levels of national identification or consumer ethnocentrism, firms should not expect non-target consumers to accept halal products. Originality/value – This is the first study to suggest that in non-Muslim countries, food companies may switch entirely to halal produce for certain products as an effective market segmentation strategy targeting Muslim consumers.
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    Managing faculty in transnational higher education: expatriate academics at international branch campuses
    (SAGE, 2019) Wilkins, Stephen; Neri, Selina
    The purpose of this research is to identify the challenges and issues associated with managing expatriate academics at international branch campuses, and to analyze the strategies that have been, or could be, implemented to overcome these challenges and issues. The data used in this study came from an online survey questionnaire that was completed by fourteen individuals holding a senior or middle management position at an international branch campus. The survey participants unanimously reported that expatriate academics tend to be highly motivated and committed, and that they are largely satisfied with their jobs. However, many individuals do have issues with adjustment to the new country, to work differences, and to interacting with others. The participants offered a range of suggestions and recommendations that may help institutions to better support expatriate academics employed at international branch campuses. The suggested actions need to be implemented prior to the new recruit’s arrival in the host country, during the induction period, and on an on-going basis.
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    Student learning in higher education through blogging in the classroom
    (Elsevier, 2019) Garcia, Elaine; Moizer, Jonathan; Wilkins, Stephen; Haddoud, Mohamed Yacine
    In the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the range of social media tools that have become available. Despite reports of successful adoption in the higher education classroom, there have been relatively few empirical studies that have explored whether the use of blogs in teaching and learning leads to an increase in perceived learning by students. This research study adopts a post positivist research approach and a quantitative research design that uses PLS-SEM. It was found that students do perceive higher degrees of learning from using blogs, but the recognised benefits of using blogs is influenced by the students’ attitudes towards the use of technology in teaching and learning, their perceived usefulness of blogs, and the extent to which they have used blogs previously. The findings have implications for both teachers and students, as they can be used as a framework to help ensure the successful use of pedagogic blogs.
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    The return of China’s soft power in South East Asia: an analysis of the international branch campuses established by three Chinese universities
    (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) He, Lan; Wilkins, Stephen
    The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship between China’s soft power and the international branch campuses (IBCs) established overseas by Chinese universities, and to identify which aspect of China’s soft power has the greatest impact on these campuses. We adopted a qualitative research design that involved interviews with managers, faculty and staff at three Chinese international branch campuses in Laos, Malaysia and Thailand. Our findings suggest that China is leveraging its existing soft power to assist or promote its education export, and China’s soft power is returning to South East Asia. Although each of the three IBCs contributes to disseminating China’s soft power to a certain extent, their effort is still quite limited. The aspect of China’s soft power that has the greatest influence on the Chinese IBCs is the necessity of the Chinese language, as well as Chinese cultural history and heritage. Another important factor is the economic power of China, albeit a type of hard power. It is China’s rapid economic development that is driving students’ desire to take courses delivered in Chinese, and to learn the Chinese language at these branch campuses. The study’s findings have implications for policy makers, educators and researchers with an interest in IBCs.
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    Product standardisation in the food service industry: post-purchase attitudes and repurchase intentions of non-Muslims after consuming halal food
    (Taylor and Francis, 2019) Wilkins, Stephen; Muhammad Mohsin, Butt; Shams, Farshid; Pérez, Andrea
    In order to satisfy the Muslim market segment, many restaurant and fast food companies in Western countries have standardised their products by switching to halal. The purpose of this research is to discover the extent to which non-Muslim consumers in non-Muslim countries experience cognitive dissonance when they think about restaurants and fast food outlets having likely served them halal-produced food, and the extent to which these consumers intend to repurchase halal food. A quantitative survey method using structural equation modelling was adopted. Data came from a total sample of 1,097 non-Muslim consumers in Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom. Consumer religious identity and interest in animal welfare were found to significantly predict the consumer cognitive dissonance associated with unintended consumption of halal food. The full model, with religious identity, ethnic identification and interest in animal welfare as antecedents of cognitive dissonance, explained 35% of the variance in consumers’ repurchase intentions. Our findings suggest that many non-Muslims do not have a particular issue with consuming halal food, but they may react negatively if they unintentionally consume halal food and perceive that they have been deprived of information, or worse still, deliberately deceived. The research makes a number of contributions to marketing knowledge with regard to the negative spillover effects that can result from faith-based product standardisation, and the influences of consumer interest in animal welfare and deprivation of product information on consumer behaviour.
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    Talent management in transnational higher education: strategies for staffing international branch campuses
    (Taylor and Francis, 2019) Neri, Selina; Wilkins, Stephen
    The study investigates the practices of academic staff talent management at international branch campuses, with the aim of identifying a range of practical strategies that may address the unique challenges of managing talent in campuses located far away from the home country. These strategies are intended to improve service quality and add value to institution profiles. Based on an online questionnaire, ad hoc email correspondence and publicly available information, five case studies are presented. Talent management emerges as a key strategic area, directly managed at dean/president level. Referrals and online portals are commonly utilised as channels to attract talent, and the need to sometimes uplift local packages to recruit and retain talent is recognised. It is concluded that the development of academic staff should be viewed as an investment, and the availability of research funding and teaching awards on campus may be used to attract, develop and retain talent.
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    Dual consumer–organisation identification in international alliances and partnerships: consumers’ supportive intentions towards local and foreign firms
    (Taylor and Francis, 2018) Wilkins, Stephen; Muhammad Mohsin, Butt; Heffernan, Troy
    This study investigates whether firms that are evaluating potential partners might benefit from considering how consumers view these organisations, specifically the extent to which consumer identification with local and foreign partners influences consumer satisfaction with a co-branded product and consumers’ post purchase/consumption supportive intentions toward each partner. Data came from institutions of higher education in Hong Kong and Sri Lanka that operate in collaboration with a foreign partner. A conceptual model was developed and then tested using structural equation modelling. Dual consumer-organisation identification was found to be a significant predictor of consumer satisfaction with the co-branded product and consumers’ supportive intentions toward each partner. Furthermore, the perceived identity attractiveness of each partner was significantly related to the consumers’ identification with each partner. The results suggest that organisations which indulge in collaborative arrangements with foreign firms should recognise that each partner plays a significant and distinct role in generating consumer satisfaction and positive post-purchase/consumption behaviours.