Internationalisation has become a worldwide trend in Higher Education in the rapidly changing globalised competitive market. Universities are pressurised to develop internationalised strategy to build legitimacy and reputation within the knowledge-based economy. An isomorphic tendency has been identified of universities mimicking successful models. Among a wide range of strategic tools, the organisational legitimacy theory allows universities to focus on exploiting their resources and capability to position idiosyncratically against competitors. This study applies Stensaker et al.'s legitimacy framework on cognitive, moral and pragmatic perspectives, to investigate how a university adopts an internationalisation strategy as one of the approaches to achieve the overall institutional objectives. Drawing on a case study of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), the paper explores how the university internationalises in a differentiated position to acquire legitimacy in specific local, regional and global contexts. PolyU strategically emphasises its pragmatic value to connect with its stakeholders in a globalised dimension. The finding broadly supports the notion of comprehensive internationalisation; that internationalisation strategy should be incorporated into other functional strategies to enhance a 'global' experience. The analysis of the strength and weaknesses of PolyU's internationalisation strategies illustrates the challenges non-western universities are facing. This finding, while preliminary, raises the significance of local elements in internationalisation strategies, under the influence of soft power and constraints of organisational capabilities. Copyright © 2022 Springer.