Global universities’ COVID-19 scientific knowledge production: Collaborative sense-making during a crisis


  • Dr. Sowmya Ghosh University of Arizona
  • Dr. Linsay DeMartino Illinois State University



Covid19, Scientific Knowledge Production, Collaborative research, Sense-making, Comparative Analysis


As the world grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the role universities play in advancing COVID knowledge and long term management of this global crisis is largely unknown.  In this study, we document from a comparative perspective the ways in which members from universities in the US, New Zealand, Italy, South Korea and China engage in activities to respond to the pandemic. We apply the sense-making knowledge management model (Choo, 1998) and boundary spanning theory (Tushman, & Scanlan, 1981; Birkinshaw, Ambos & Bouquet, 2017) to identify strategies that university members employ by engaging with members from their university, local government and regional universities to generate scientific knowledge that enhances our global understanding of the evolving pandemic. In analyzing COVID related content via university websites, our findings reveal that response to the pandemic varies by university stratification, specifically by size and research capacity. We identified three distinct lenses by which university members position their leadership and research on COVID. We find universities from China, regardless of status-based characteristics, currently utilize a post-pandemic approach. Whereas universities in the US, Italy, New Zealand and South Korea approach their COVID research activities using an evolving-pandemic anticipatory lens and focus on scientific knowledge creating on current and future-pandemics by engaging in a range of collaborative activities with members of regional universities. Further, we find the role of boundary-spanners (Author & Author, 2018) particularly prominent in enhancing efforts to develop inter-university generated knowledge on COVID-19. Findings also provide policy implications for university-led response to global health challenges. 


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Author Biography

Dr. Linsay DeMartino, Illinois State University

Assistant Professor, Dr. Linsay DeMartino is a scholar-practitioner. Her P-12 teaching, leadership, and research experience is grounded in transformative practices and justice-based schooling.


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Choo, C. W. (1996). The knowing organization: How organizations use information to construct meaning, create knowledge and make decisions. International journal of information management, 16(5), 329-340.

Author & Author. (2018). Title. Global Education Review.

Tushman, M. L., & Scanlan, T. J. (1981). Boundary spanning individuals: Their role in information transfer and their antecedents. Academy of management journal, 24(2), 289- 305.



How to Cite

Ghosh, S., & DeMartino, L. (2022). Global universities’ COVID-19 scientific knowledge production: Collaborative sense-making during a crisis . Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 14(3a).



Summer 2022 Special Edition