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IC Knowledge Competency 3: Goal Orientation

Goal orientation is, arguably, one of the most difficult and sensitive issues to juggle during a collaborative project. On the one hand, stakeholders, research organisations and individuals all have their own (political) agendas. On the other hand, one partner may expect the other partner to accommodate to their own aims and agendas. Goal orientation requires each partner to be interested in the other’s goals, to identify which issues can and cannot be negotiated and why, and to recognise where concessions are possible or necessary. In this way, people can maximise mutual satisfaction in goal achievement.
Goal orientation is particularly difficult to manage because new and/or revised goals (one’s own and/or the other’s) often emerge as a project unfolds and so cannot simply be negotiated at the beginning. They remain an ongoing point of concern and have to be regularly revisited and renegotiated. This demands a great deal of time, patience, sensitivity and persistence.
Case Study Example: Balancing Goals
A complex matrix of parties was involved in the eChina~UK Programme and its component projects, including:
tick.gif strategic stakeholders (HEFCE and the Chinese MoE);
tick.gif institutional stakeholders (senior management in the partner universities);
tick.gif the project teams.
Each of these parties held varying goal priorities both for the programme as a whole and for the individual projects. Everyone wanted innovative and useful materials to be developed; in addition, however, the British particularly wanted to conduct research and to gain generic insights, whilst the Chinese wanted to develop full courses so that people could be trained and income could be generated. Once the projects were underway, and it became clear that time and money was too limited for everything to be achieved, the teams found they had to balance a number of tensions very carefully. They needed to share their needs and interests with each other in an open and trusting manner, and to find ways of reconciling their different goal priorities.

 Tensions needing to be Balanced

Development of course materials as an end in itself

 doublesidedarrow Development of course materials as a means of conducting applied research and of gaining generic insights

Development of a full course/module

 doublesidedarrow Development of innovative samples

Design which is suited to Chinese learners’ current study preferences

 doublesidedarrow Design which helps implement China’s educational reform by giving more emphasis to student-centred learning and self-study


For more detailed examples, please see

cift_arrow.gif Tip: Take time regularly to reconsider each other’s goals and to renegotiate them if necessary.