The positioning and competitive strategies of higher education institutions in the United Arab Emirates
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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.