Innovation – when students meet reality


In December 2012, the Danish Government launched the national innovation strategy of Denmark: ’Denmark – Land of Solutions’. A new paradigm for the future policy of innovation was thus initiated.

The innovation strategy is launched to ensure that Denmark’s competitive advantages in research and commerce/business are transformed into new growth and job creation. Concurrently the strategy aims at contributing to ensuring the development of innovation solutions to global challenges and aims at heightening/improving the knowledge transfer between knowledge institutions and companies (Ministry of Higher Education and Science, 2013).

To support innovation projects at Academies of Professional Higher Education and University Colleges the Danish government has allocated 40 million DKK (5.3 million Euro). This funding is initiated in order to support practice based innovation projects and in order to enhance the quality of the educational programmes. Academies of Professional Higher Education like the International Business Academy – IBA – are thus able to enhance and support research and development activities in companies by developing concrete innovation projects, bringing their unique knowledge and competences into play.

Based on the innovation strategy and the IBA’s development contract with the Ministry, and as part of the IBA’s development activities aimed at enhancing the focus on innovation in the educational programmes, the overall development project ‘Applied Innovation’ was initiated. The Ministry of Higher Education and Science financially supported the project.

As the IBA’s overall development project ‘Applied Innovation’ consists of various projects, the case study (and hence this paper) is based on the programme Bachelor of International Sales and Marketing Management. The case study involved 100 bachelor students and the two authors of the paper, both lecturers at the programme in the period of November 2013 to February 2014. The students and lecturers collaborated with the Danish subsidiary of an international company (referred to as the Company). The project spanned three months and was designed to encompass the following phases: 1. Development of the concept ideas; 2. Commercialisation of the concept ideas.

The project has to be seen as a continuous learning activity and the project was comprised of new exams addressing innovation processes and commercialisation, in addition to the already listed development aspects. The research method of this paper is the case study. The case study is by nature interpretative and is based on an interpretative and constructive epistemology. The empirical evidence of the case study is based on examples of presentations and the documents, which describe the innovative concepts and ideas developed throughout the project. Furthermore the study also tests the explanatory application of some of the theories from the educational programme.

Theoretical Framework

As an overall theoretical approach Piihl and Philipsen (2011, p. 35) ”Linking Teaching Curriculum to Theory”, figure 1 is applied. This approach, as the figure illustrates, consists of two modes: Teaching Curriculum and Theory of Application respectively. Piihl and Philipsen’s (ibid.) objective has been to develop a theoretical framework which ensures a structured way to describe, analyse and clarify the challenges that may occur in designing higher education curricula in order to promote both rigour and relevance. Concurrently Piihl and Philipsen (ibid.) address the need to link relevance and competences. They emphasise the need to design teaching curricula in ways which include the context, e.g. a business, to which the students are expected to contribute upon graduation.

Piihl and Philipsen’s (2011) typology is gauged to be relevant and is applied in the case study presented in this paper, in order to situate some of the bachelor programme’s activities in a framework and broader learning perspective. This enables us to address the IBA’s curricula and theory-of-application, and mirror the case study presented in this paper as an exemplification of the Danish Government’s initiative for enhancing the knowledge transfer between higher education institutions (in this case the IBA), bachelor students and a concrete company.

Figure 1. Linking Teaching Curriculum to Theory-of-Application (Piihl & Philipsen, 2011). The figure is inserted from source: A Research-based Approach to University Curriculum Development that Prepares Students for Subsequent Practice. Jesper Piihl and Kristian Philipsen (p.35) in: Beyond Transmission – Innovations in University Teaching (2011)

Below some of the core elements of Piihl and Philipsen’s (2011) typology are outlined in order to tease out the differences between Mode 1 and Mode 2, particularly pertaining to the role of the student.

Mode 1

Mode 1 can be described as the classical approach in which knowledge production takes place at research institutions working within defined disciplines (Piihl and Philipsen, 2011).The IBA bases learning activities on this research-based knowledge and the aim of the teaching is to improve the students’ skills and understanding of existing knowledge: “to make students proficient regarding existing knowledge”. This means that in mode 1 HEIs deliver teaching and the argument is that when graduating the students have obtained a given knowledge and can subsequently function as experts and advisors.

Mode 2

Piihl and Philipsen (ibid.) argue that knowledge production is not restricted to occurring in one place but is closely joined to the application context. Knowledge production occurs in a myriad of places such as universities, companies etc. Mode 2 thus observes knowledge production from the perspective that knowledge is context dependent (Piihl and Philipsen, 2011).

The aim of teaching in Mode 2, is “to reach enterprising student knowledge creation competences through case and problem oriented types” (Piihl and Philipsen, 2011, p. 38). Different types of cases, and problem oriented learning through active co-creation of context dependent knowledge form part of the lessons. However, as Piihl and Philipsen (2011) emphasise, case-oriented learning need to be based on an interpretation of the reality which a case presents. Therefore students also need to test the taught and learnt in a practical context.

Based on the above, the framework for this paper rests upon an understanding of the following:

  • That the collaboration with the company ensures proximity to practice (context) and industry embeddedness beyond case training.
  • That the collaboration draws on the students’ transdisciplinary knowledge and skills obtained through modular based and theme-based teaching.
  • That the module upon which this paper is based is the module Innovation, which has subthemes, and which can be divided trans-disciplinarily (Table 1).

We contend that Academies of Professional Higher Education and University Colleges, and the concrete curriculum, are characterized by having a different approach to knowledge production than that of the general perception as depicted in Mode 1, but not necessarily to the application of the produced knowledge.

The case study

The case study is part of the Bachelor’s Degree Programme in International Sales and Marketing Management at IBA, Kolding in Denmark. The Programme covers a number of overarching subject areas to which the educational elements (themes) are related. The educational elements are compulsory and trans-disciplinary.

The theoretical approach to the subject Innovation consists of a number of trans-disciplinary elements to understand a company’s innovative platform, creative processes and value-based management. The objective is to give students the competences to be able to enter into a company’s work with planning and implementing product and concept development. In doing so a specific company is involved in practice based learning and the context of the Innovation process is based on real life complexity.

This case study focuses on the results of phase 1 – the development of ideas for new concepts. In this phase the applied knowledge and innovation activities were part of both the lectures and part of the work pertaining to the specific challenges presented by the company. Essentially, the assignments rose out of a real need for new ideas and new perspectives, a need which the company faced. Consequently the purpose of the collaboration was to let the students, based on their knowledge, develop new innovative concepts related to the company’s products and services and related to the company’s existing markets and potential markets. Furthermore the project aimed at enhancing the students’ innovative competences in an applied context.

The study curriculum Bachelor of International Sales and Marketing Management

The course element Innovation is part of the semester theme: The background for a Company’s Sales and consists of trans-disciplinary course subjects (Table 1).

Table 1. Overview of course subjects seen in a trans-disciplinary perspective (excerpt from curriculum)

Compulsory course element Innovation 5 ECTS Course subjects
Sales and Marketing Growth analysis

Product and concept development and processes

Supply Chain Management Consequences of innovation for a company’s supply chain
Organisation Assessment of the innovative platform along with a company’s innovative processes and incentives
Law International and EU Intellectual Property Rights Law
Economics Project Management and measurement systems

Source: Curriculum BA of International Sales and marketing Management (2011)

The curriculum of this course is based on both relevant and theoretical concepts ensuring that competence-in-practice can contribute to explaining the practical part of knowledge. In spite of differences at different institutions of Higher Education and curricula, the study programme Bachelor of International Sales and Marketing Management is situated within Mode 1 pertaining to knowledge, while remaining firmly rooted in Mode 2.

The case company forms a learning context and is briefly presented below:

The Company has approximately 500 employees. The headquarters and main warehouse are based in Kolding, Denmark. The Company is a subsidiary of a German family-owned company. The core business has a product range for craft and industry that comprises over 100,000 items, ranging from screws, screw accessories and anchors to tools, chemical-technical products and personal protection equipment

Research-based Mode 1 knowledge introduced during the course

In this case study we do not present all the theoretical approaches (Mode 1) to innovation which the students may know about and apply, and which may be relevant to include. Rather we briefly present selected theoretical elements from the relevant curriculum, and study plans viewed from the perspective and scope of the collaboration with the company.

Innovation is often described as changes in what companies offer the world in the shape of products or services, and the way in which the company creates and delivers these offerings – in other words, process innovation. Moving beyond the steady state conditions of ’doing what we do better’ to ‘doing different things in different ways’ becomes the norm, according to Francis and Bessant (2005). This approach to innovation can be criticized for not including markets and business models in relation to the capabilities of the innovations. Tidd et al. (1997) in Francis and Bessant (2005) characterise these omitted models as the four P’s, which Arlbjørn et al. (2010) similarly apply as a point of departure for innovation in a company’s supply chain. Therefore it is relevant to include both analyses of the scope of innovation, and a company’s business model in the context of the potential effect of innovation and concept development on the company.

According to Hamel (2000) a business model is the business concept of a company put into practice. Hamel’s argument is that competition does not occur between products or companies, but between different business models. Hamel (ibid.) emphasises that innovation should also occur as a continuous development and adjustment of business models, and Hamel hereby invites the discussion of innovation within a company not only to pertain to products and processes, but also to be assessed based on the implications for the business concept. When a new business model for example alters the economy in an industry and is difficult to replicate, it creates a competitive advantage (Magretta, 2002). This element is relevant to include in the students’ knowledge and in their assessment of the business models. A pertinent point being that they should not equate business model with strategy cf. Magretta (ibid.).

Innovation capabilities

Francis and Bessant (2005) purport that it must be assumed that an innovative company has to possess ‘innovation capability’. That is to say, both capabilities and capacities that permit it to obtain advantages by implementing more and better ideas than its competitors. In that context, it is interesting to observe and investigate the innovative trajectories a company has pertaining to development and innovation. Tidd and Bessant (2010) define innovation capabilities as capabilities to improve products and services, which can be targeted to four core areas (the four Ps):

  • Innovation to introduce Products
  • Innovation to introduce or improve Processes
  • Innovation to define or re-define the Positioning of the firm
  • Innovation to define or re-define the dominant Paradigm of the firm.

All four can be pursued at the same time. The four P’s provide a structured approach to examining the opportune scope for innovation.

Innovation capabilities are not cf. Tidd and Bessant (2010) a unitary set of attributes. It may occur that the capability which is needed in order to support some aspects of a company’s innovation conflict with those that support other innovative endeavours. This situation is a pivotal argument which Christensen et al (2000, 2002) present as the innovator’s dilemma in dealing with both sustaining and disruptive innovation (initially seen from a technological perspective).

Disruption as an approach to innovation and concept development

Disruption as an innovation method is widely applied in different contexts with the perspective of creating or generating something that is new (Kim and Mauborgne, 2005; Christensen et al., 2002; Dru 1997). The concept is applied in this case-study predominantly from Christensen et al.’s (2002) definitions and recommendations on application, and is then broadened and applied in other settings.

Christensen et al (2002) point to two general strategies which can lead to ideas bringing forth disruptive growth. The first strategy is based on the fact that a market is identified as a subject for disruption, and the second strategy is based on the disruption of the existing business model. They emphasise that ideas that give rise to the disrupting of new markets are the most prevalent innovation strategy. To test such ideas, Christensen et al (ibid.) present a litmus test, and the results of these can assist managers and executives in distinguishing between disruptive and sustaining ideas. Thus Christensen et al present two types of approaches to innovation: Sustaining versus Disruptive Innovation. They define sustaining innovation as innovation enabling products and services, already valued by customers at mainstream market, to perform better. Disruptive innovation creates a new market, by introducing new types of products, services and concepts.

While Christensen and Overdorf (2000) discuss and create a framework on how companies can evolve capabilities to cope with change, Dru (1997) presents a framework from a marketing and branding perspective on how to create disruptions by overturning conventions. Dru’s framework consists of three steps. The first step consists of identifying the present conventions in the industry and market. The second step consists of being disruptive by questioning how things have been done hitherto, and it is during this process that new ideas develop into new concepts, by disrupting conventions. Considering these different approaches to disruptive ideas, Anthony et al. (2008) argue that disruption can also involve a company in doing what competitors will not do. In the third step, a vision for the new concept, still loyal to the overall brand of the company, is developed and formulated. It may nonetheless challenge the existing business model.

The objective of bringing this knowledge into the learning process for the students has been to present them with the knowledge that disruption, as a method of innovation, can take place in different areas; and also to make them aware that the approach can be applied in a broader perspective and setting, pertaining not just to technological innovations.

Based on a variety of theoretical approaches and on the project learning as presented in the curriculum, the students will be exposed to the context (Mode 2 Theory-of-Application) – Innovation in Reality. They are expected to approach the task not in the role of experts, but in the role of change agents who have to work with problem identification, interpretation, analyses and innovative solutions. Thus they worked intensely for some weeks with a case company on the challenge presented below to develop a concept for tools for a specific B2B market or to develop a concept for measuring tools for a specific market of construction customers.

To provide a reference and insight into the context of the Company the students were presented to the Company according to the frame below. This in order to provide a frame of understanding for the students’ encounter with context of application.

The context

The students are introduced to the Company during a visit to the company. They are introduced to the history of the Company, the values and products. Some students proactively ask questions with clear reference to the literature and attempt at getting close to the headline of the project assignment ‘Applied Innovation’.

Excited to hear about the processes of product development, idea generation and innovation the students are introduced to one of the most important persons in the Company – the innovator who has many years of experience in the Company. Based on the account from a valuable member of staff with a talent for choosing which products should be part of the product line the students obtain insight into how the product development occurs and where the ideas come from.

Most of the ideas come from the morning shower and the students are almost led into the homes of the employee’s bathroom where the morning shower can take forever because the ideas emanate here. The employee has also installed a system allowing him to let the water run and still be conscientious of energy consumption while he just down the ideas somewhere in the bathroom. The account continues and entails trips to Asia in ‘comfortable hiking-shoes’ working his way through numerous exhibition halls and fairs to collect and select tools and ideas – which can be developed further and incorporated in the product line.

Empirical findings

The empirical findings present a description and qualitative analysis of five Case Concepts hoping that we will identify differences in their approaches and ways in which they use theory and practice. In the practice-based assignment, the students were asked to develop a well-founded suggestion to solve one of the following challenges, which The Company faced: Develop a concept for tools (tooling) for a specific B2B market, or develop a concept for measuring tools for a specific market of construction customers.

The students worked in groups for two weeks, and presented their ideas to a panel of experts from the company and to their lecturers. They then continued into the commercialization process. In this paper we only account for the first part of this project.

In the following we briefly present the business concepts presented by the students.

  Idea Applied approaches
Case Concept One Create our own the Company, with three new innovations:
Product busses within different segments.
The Company Academy – customer seminars.
Collaboration with technical schools and secondary schools.
  • A distruptive innovation model (Christensen et al, 2002)
  • A Blue ocean approach (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005)
  • Business Model (Hutt & Speh, 2013)
  • The X-model of Employee Engagement (Blessing & White, 2012)
  • Sales Management competences (Cron & Decarlo, 2010)
  • Hierarchy of Needs (Cron & Decarlo, 2010)
Case Concept Two The Company initiative for Start-Ups. Increase sales through Start-up Package Solutions for new, small-scale potential customers.
  • The sustaining innovation model approach (Christensen et al, 2002)
  • Osterwalder’s Canvas model (Osterwalder et al, 2009)
  • Types of innovation (Hoskisson et al, 2007), The 4P’s of innovation space (Tidd and Bessant, 2010).
Case Concept Three A further development of the Company’s concept of handheld scanners. To increase the advantages of efficiency primarily for profitable customers and for the Company, hereby engendering increased loyalty and sales.
  • Theoretical discussion of disruption (Christensen et al, 2002)
  • What Customer Value Means to Business Customers (Hutt & Speh, 2013)
Case Concept Four “SPOT ON”
Create increased value to the customers through innovation of both concrete product features, packaging and services.
  • A brainstorming process, with the clear aim of improving the currently identified weaknesses,
  • 4P’s innovation space (Tidd and Bessant, 2010).
Case Concept Five “My the Company” – an internet-based personal interface for B2B customers
  • 4P’s innovation model (Tidd and Bessant, 2010).
  • A disruptive model approach (Christensen et al, 2002) and,
  • 7 P’s of service marketing (Kotler et al., 2009),
  • Sales Management Competencies (Cron and Decarlo, 2010)
  • A value added market approach. New technology is used to improve service innovation.
  • A combination of market-driven and internal capability perspectives


Below we discuss and assess the five concepts presented by the students based on the structure of the concepts and their application of theory in practice and the solutions to the challenges. The assessment specially addresses the perspective of innovation present in the concepts. Furthermore the discussion addresses the potential business implications of the solutions presented by the students. This part of the discussion addresses the outcomes of the innovation process.

Structure and application of theory in practice

We ascertain that the students assume the role as change agents based on the fulfilment of the learning objectives of the curriculum. We can identify explicit references to a trans-disciplinary approach to solving the challenges in all five concepts as they refer to a variety of theoretical models.

The five concepts are structured relatively similarly regarding analysis and in their approach to answering the assignment. The structure of the concepts can be listed logically in separate phases. Phases in the students’ approach: Context of case, problem identification, analytical approach and recommendation.

The structure of the submitted concepts should be assessed in the context of the way in which the assignment is given: the assignment required a structured and well-argued case. Based on the five concepts we can ascertain that the demands listed to the assignments logically produce a rather uniform structure of the case report.

Approaches to solution of the challenge

It is interesting, however, to discuss and reflect on how the students approach the challenge. The empirical data indicate that all five concepts commence from the context. That is to say the company and Mode 2 cf. Piihl and Philipsen (2011). In all five concepts the students then chose a business model approach, whether they chose Hamel (2000) or Osterwalder (2009) as reference, it is quite clear to identify a point of departure in the company and its capabilities (competences and resources). Thus we identify a Mode 2 context in the students’ approach to solving the assignment but based firmly in the context of Mode 1’s theoretical approach.

The nuances and detailed use of theories in the problem solving vary in the five submitted concepts. It is possible to identify great differences in the extent to which the students prioritise theories and create relevant and practical solutions.

The understanding of capability and the significance to the innovation processes of the Company are addressed most in depth in Case Concept One and Case Concept Two. Case Concept Three, Four and Five chose a more marketing-theoretical approach by analysing need and address values in the customers and the market in general.

Only Case Concept One chose to address the risk element in the innovation process and the students conscientiously chose a sustainable innovation whereby they aim at making the most of the company’s current strengths as well as fulfilling the existing needs in the market. The other four Concepts focus more on the fact that the company’s opportunities are greater through innovation than the potential threats of the innovation and change.

Use of innovation theory

Our analysis indicates that the students use innovation theories and models in both their analyses as well as in their own assessment of the innovation solutions. In four of the five Case Concepts we identify explicit application of disruptive and sustaining theoretical references. Case Concept Four is the only Case Concept in which the students do not explicitly refer to the model. It is interesting to observe that the model and approach are applied similarly in the first-mentioned four Case Concepts. We can thus identify a predominantly uniform approach to solving the challenge. In all cases the model is applied to generate ideas and identify solutions to the challenge. As an add-on; the students could have chosen to apply the litmus test in their assessment of their own recommended solution – but none of the five Case Concepts chose to use this test.

Furthermore the students have used another innovation theory in solving the challenge. When it comes to this, Case Concept Five should be mentioned as they with an explicit reference to the 4P’s innovation model aim at creating process innovation. This is done with clear reference to the disruption model approach.

Case Concept One approaches the innovation process quite conscientiously. They start this process by identifying and creating an overview of the Company’s current capabilities and subsequently by explicitly choosing to apply a disruptive innovation approach in order to develop innovation by going the opposite direction. This approach is positivistic and views opportunities. All five Case Concepts apply this approach – Case Concept Two has a more balanced approach to this by also including risk element in their approach to the innovation process.

Case Concept Two has chosen an approach, which aims directly at sustaining innovation. It is interesting to observe that the students deliberately chose a slightly more conservative approach to innovation when they include the risk discussion from the very beginning. Their approach to solving the challenge is that it is most expedient; easier and almost risk free applying the sustaining innovation approach. As the only Case Concept of the five Case Concepts this group of students chose a more pragmatic business development approach through the conscientious choice of sustaining innovation. It is possible to argue for this choice based on both a theoretical and a very practice-based approach. It is also the only Case Concept that has this approach and thus the students differentiate themselves from the other groups. Their choice can be seen as expressing a lower level of innovation ambition compared to the other groups. It should be noted, though that the ambition to create value to small and newly started customers is quite ambitious and value creating – also to the Company.
Case Concept Four also uses an innovation approach by using sustaining innovation. The point of departure differs to Case Concept Two, which also applies sustaining innovation (Christensen et al, 2002). Case Concept Four generates innovative ideas from their strength and weaknesses analysis, which has been conducted preliminarily. Thus their point of departure differs but it is interesting to observe both Case Concepts and their usage of the analysis as input in the idea-brainstorming phase.

The approach to innovation through using the technology development can be seen in Case Concept Three. In this Case Concept an existing product/service (hand scanner) is added efficiency advantages aiming at increasing the customers’ loyalty and the Company’s revenue. Case Concept Five also applied technology as a driver for innovation development. The strength of the approach of Case Concept 3 is that it conscientiously and in a structured manner approaches the innovation process through the perspective of technology. The disadvantage can be that the innovation is minimal but it is beyond the scope of this paper to assess whether this is the case here.

Case Concept Five apart from technology disruption also applies a perception on innovation that it is not only product oriented. The innovation in Case Concept Five has an explicit focus on development and renewal of process and services in the Company based on the 4P’s innovation model (Tidd and Bessant, 2010).


This case study accounts for a concrete development project in ‘Applied Innovation’ focusing on how higher educational teaching initiatives support applied sciences and support the students’ competence-in-practice. The objective of the project has been to increase the focus on innovation in study programmes in general and specifically in the study programme Bachelor of International Sales and Marketing Management. This study programme already contains an ECTS accredited innovation module cf. the curriculum. Furthermore the project deliberately aimed at enhancing the students’ innovative competences in a practice-based context.

The applied innovation in this case study differs from the knowledge the students have obtained from lectures. Based on the empirical observations we have conducted in the context-of-application in the company and with the company as a source we conclude that the innovation in the company and the innovative trajectories can be situated within a strong focus on products and a longitudinal focus on individual innovative capabilities. Furthermore we do not have observations providing us with data based on which we can reach conclusions regarding the total capabilities of the company. We were able to observe peripheral links to the international network of the company; however, this does not form part of the current case.

Meeting a reality where the ideas are formed in the morning shower or from years of experience was a very different encounter with practice than the theoretical knowledge base the students brought with them from class. Even if the innovation observed in practice presented itself quite differently from the students’ theoretical knowledge base, our analyses illustrate that the students still avail of the knowledge obtained from class when encountering practice. Based on this knowledge base and the context the students, as change agents, are able to develop new concepts for the Company. As change agents, the students work from an understanding of the context and apply their hitherto acquired learning while still learning.

We purport that the curriculum of the Professional Bachelor of International Sales and Marketing Management warrant that the context of any given learning activity should form part of the design of the learning activity. This has to be done in order to achieve and ensure the intended learning, cf. the curriculum, in which the study programme is strongly based within the knowledge typology Mode 2 and a theoretical foundation of Mode 1. We raise the question whether this is done adequately and as Piihl and Philipsen argue how the students experience such learning activities in their studies. This is an interesting point as IBA has the objective that a series of the exams held at the IBA should take place in collaboration with the context that is to say business and industry. In the case study project ‘Applied Innovation’ the exam was developed and we were able to create a context between two independent exams in order to create continuity and a longer period for the students to train and rehearse. In this case this meant that students apart from working with idea generation in phase one were able to continue working and address commercializing their ideas in the second phase of the project.

Being in touch with the context (business and industry) is part of the curriculum and the students have two internships during their study programme. We assess the case study project as a whole to fulfil the learning objectives listed in the curriculum, the development activities of IBA and the objectives of the Ministry and provide us with more inspiration to how innovation may form a greater part of the IBA’s curricula in total. The development activities of IBA and the objectives of the Ministry may also inspire us, lecturers, to maintain the intended learning objectives and continue to develop and solve the challenges of designing learning activities that balance the various forms of knowledge production in order to ensure the students from Professional Bachelor of International Sales and Marketing Management will be able to contribute to the context-of-application.


Joan Pape Rasmussen, Assistant professor in International Marketing and Business Communication and Branding, International Business Academy, Kolding, Denmark,

Lars Jespersen, Assistant professor in Strategic Management, Innovation Management and Organisation, International Business Academy, Kolding, Denmark,

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Cross Functional Supply Chain Management – How to recognise the need for it and how to implement it?

1. Introduction

Companies are continuously facing challenges in changing global markets. This means that the manufacturing processes must be optimised; there is a constant need for higher product development speed, manufacturing flexibility, eliminating waste and to improve controlling processes. (Azharulm & Kazi 2013.) Many companies have chosen Lean, which originates from Toyota Production System (TPS), in order to improve or even to rescue their company, but many have failed. For example, only less than ten percent of the companies in UK have accomplished a successful Lean implementation (Bhasin 2012.) Many have turned into external consultants and struggled to sustain the results after the consultants have completed their projects. Instead of using external help, Toyota has a different approach towards Lean. TPS is an integrated system where each team member, leader and every worker in each level own, operate and continuously improve their processes. (Liker & Convis 2012, 144).

The original problem of the case company, Lahden Autokori Oy, was poor reliability of deliveries. There was no clear picture of root causes of the problems, but a lot of strong opinions which department caused most of the deviations. The bottlenecks needed to be identified in order to make the process flow again. On the other hand, to be able to eliminate the bottlenecks, the abnormalities in the processes must first be detected (DeLong 2011.) In order to find the bottlenecks and root causes the research method was built around the idea of finding the deviations by seeing them visually. This article explores how the research results support the fact, that the company is lacking of cross functionality and how it could benefit from Lean. Being cross functional has different dimensions and definitions. One of the definitions, which is used for cross functional management, is “working together for the benefit of the company” (Chuda 2013, 157). Ford & Randolph (1992, 269) define it as involving people from two or more different departments/different areas to undertake a task on either a temporary or permanent basis. “TPS is a system where everything is connected“ (Modig & Åhlström 2013, 139.)

Many studies have examined Lean methods and tools, and how to implement Lean successfully. The case company tried Lean transformation in year 2009, but failed. The case company filed for voluntary bankruptcy in September 2013 just after the research results were completed, however, it got a second chance and is owned by Scania CV AB (starting at 1st of May 2014). Scania has been practising Lean since 1997, and it’s evitable that the LAK will undergo its own version of Lean transformation as a method to survive in the business. This article gives a concrete picture, through the case study, of how to identify the need for cross functional management and what kind of Lean methods and tools should be implemented. The literature review introduces the philosophy behind the Lean, and emphasises the use of visualization. The Lean leadership is introduced as an integrated system for daily management, where KPIs are reported from bottom up to give a clear picture of expected versus actual results. As the objective is to change the organisation’s management system, the Lean transformation approach is presented. After the literature review, the research method is presented followed by the analysis and conclusions.

2. Literature review

The literature review focuses on Lean by first introducing the matter of flow through three laws of Lean (Modig & Åhlström, 2013). Visualization is important part in Lean when recognising the abnormalities in the processes, therefore some visual tools are presented (Mann 2010). As KPIs help to measure the process and to identify when and what is going wrong, this chapter introduces visual KPIs, and emphasises them as a way to raise accountability among the operators. In the end, Lean transformation and the success factors are presented.

2.1 Lean and matter of flow

Lean is about having a series of activities or solutions to minimize waste and non value adding (NVA) operations and improve the value added (VA) processes (Azharul & Kazi 2013, 171). In Lean, high flow efficiency is prioritised over high resource efficiency (Modig & Åhlström  2013, 127). When the focus in the organisation is not in the flow, it can result from lack of cross functionality, when the organisation may consist of sub-optimised departments, which operate in isolation. These isolated departments often focus on maximising their own resources. (Modig & Åhlström  213, 99.) According to Bhasin (2012, 441) in most organisations, sub-cultures can be found. If the aims and the needs of the departments are not the same, there is a risk of ending up in a situation where the departments have different goals.

There are three main laws which prevent units to flow in the processes: Little’s law, variation and bottlenecks. (Modig & Åhlström  2013, 31). The formula of the Little’s law is: Lead time = Work in progress (WIP)/Cycle time. Lead time is total amount of units or people in the process and the average time for how long it takes to complete a single production unit or serve a person. Lead time is related to the boundaries set around the process. (Modig & Åhlström 2013, 34 – 35.) When there is an increased focus on flow effiency, the lead time naturally shortens and there are less inventories, which means that there is less cash tied in the process. The second law focuses on reducing variation from the processes. Variation exists everywhere as it’s the law of nature and based on normal distribution. However, when it comes to demands (customer needs) and to supply (the organisation’s resources), in order to reach the consistent processes, variation should be controlled and minimised. (Modig & Åhlström 2013, 100-101.) The third law focuses on minimising the waste by eliminating the bottlenecks and focusing on the flow through having a control over the process. (Liker & Convis 2012, 91.)

2.2 Visualising the metrics, finding the normal state

It is crucial to measure right things, at the right time in the supply chain process, in order to have immediate corrective actions. (Azharul et al.2013, 170). Companies often fail to develop appropriate performance measurement metrics (KPIs) related to efficiency as the metrics are usually based on finance. (Gunasekaran et al. 2004; Gunasekaran et al. 2007.) In Lean management, the KPIs are visualized and controlled, and the purpose is to focus on the process to make it easy to compare expected versus actual performance (Mann 2010, 53). Based on Azharuls (2013) study the time-related measures are the most significant for Lean performance evaluation and measurements. In fact, time is a crucial concept in TPS, where all the workers are expected to perform value-added work in perfect synchronization and in takt. (Liker & Convis 2012, 91.) For example, in the case company takt time is one day, meaning that the bus (work in progress, WIP), is moved from one station to another once a day, and one bus per day is produced.

In Lean, visualization is strongly emphasized. The methods and tools are based on the visual effects in order to see what is normal and what is not normal. Basic lean tools such as 5S, Value Stream mapping and Kanban are all based on visual effect (Masaaki 1997, 63; Väisänen 2013; Hanover 2011). The first basic and commonly used method is a Japanese method for housekeeping – 5S. It includes five stages: sort, straight, shine, standardize and sustain. The goal of 5S is to improve continuously order and cleanliness, which is seen as a base for eliminating waste, and helps to identify the abnormalities in the process (FactorySystems 2014.) Value Stream mapping is a method, where a chosen process is visualized by drawing the process phases including work in progress (WIP), process time, waiting time and inventories. It’s used for identifying the bottlenecks, and it gives a good picture of the present state of the process. (Väisänen 2013.) Kanban too, as 5S and Value Stream mapping, supports the idea of improving the flow. Kanbans are signals, which indicate what work needs to be done and when. (Hanover 2011.) In order to stop and notify the abnormalities, one needs to recognize and see the normal state first (DeLong 2011). All the three methods mentioned above support to see the normal state. In addition, statistical tools can also be used visually, for example Control charts, Pareto charts and histograms. The purpose of all of these methods and tools is to find the vital few (bottlenecks), and eliminate them in order to decrease variation in the processes and eventually stabilize and control the process.

2.3 Lean transformation

The success of Lean transformation normally depends upon organizational characteristics, which means that there is no such approach as “one size fits them all” for implementing Lean (Shah & Ward 2003). There is no universal formula how to implement Lean, but some general rules apply. According to Monden (2012) implementation should start (before the techniques) with making a schedule, setting a goal and providing education and after that the first technique 5S is implemented (Monden 2012, 28). Having carefully crafted implementation plan for the change is a key for succeeding in implementing Lean, as otherwise organization might get distracted by the daily challenges and other problems they’ll face. (Chaneski 2005; Monden 2012; Bhasin 2012.) The purpose of the plan is to manage the Lean implementation and to keep the people focused on the plan. Another key factor is to involve the key people from the organization. These people should have enough power and should be responsible for the processes. The plan should be visible for all the stakeholders, and it works as a road map for the organization. The third key factor for the success of Lean transformation is belief and taking the courage to step on the Lean path, as people will change, if they see and witness the benefits. (Chaneski 2005; Bhasin 2012.) In addition, Monden (2012) emphasizes the meaning of upper management being involved in implementation, and also having a project team comprising all the organization levels. Implementation should start with selecting a pilot project, and eventually move from downstream processes to upstream processes, meaning from lower levels to the top level of an organisation (Monden 2012, 25 – 28.) Bhasin (2012) would engage all the employees to implement the changes, and develop the skills in order to remove any fear and anxiety towards the transformation. Success in implementation lies with the people, and the organisations can not afford to have any negative sub-cultures, if they wish to succeed (Bhasin 2012; Womack et al. 2005).

Every organization needs a vision and a set of goals to be reached. In conventional supply chain management, the managers focus is on following the key performance indicators (KPIs) through periodic reports (weekly, monthly etc.) The reports can be sub-optimized and are written from that particular department’s point of view, when there is a risk of bias reporting. The goal is to meet the schedule, whatever it takes, which leads managers to invent their own ways to succeed. (Mann 2010, 10 – 11.) At Toyota, the goals are determined by the board of directors, a process from top to down. To make it down to up process, Toyota has implemented daily accountability process through KPIs connected to the main KPIs determined by the board. The system is visualised and bases on kaizen (continuous improvement). At each level the targets and KPIs are connected to the main goal. (Liker & Convis 2012, 148 – 149.) The targets and goals are discussed on a daily basis at each level of organisation with a carefully planned agenda. (Mann 2010, 23 – 104). The leadership is integrated in daily accountability meetings, where KPIs are compared expected versus actual. The targets come from top and the actuals come from down making the organisation communicate cross functionally. The method is called leader standard work (Mann 2010, 23).

3. Research context and method

The research method chosen is an empirical action research, including a quantitative method approach and observations. In an environment where there is the suspicion of lack of cross functional management, action research method with quantitative method approach was seen as the best method to avoid any misunderstandings by presenting the findings as numeric facts. (Dick 2014.) The idea of the action research method was built around leader standard work presented by Mann (2010, 37 – 39), but covering only the upper level of the organisation; The method covered meeting practice held twice a week, where the responsible operators (i.e. upper level managers and directors) were accountable for raising deviations and being responsible for taking actions. The method was followed through a visual tool (white board), where all departments had their response times visualised based on the schedule/takt. The method was called TITO. The original idea of the method is from Scania Slupks, Poland, and the original name of the method is “Get orders to flow”, created by J. Dabrowska-Balasz. The idea of the tool was to take first steps towards cross functional communication and tie the organisation more closely together by discussing through the KPIs (response time).

Figure 1: TITO, a visual tool, white board

In figure 1 the visual tool is presented. Each bus or a batch of buses has an own card, which is located on the white board according to the time schedule of the whole supply chain process, from order to delivery. The white board is divided into two sections: one where the orders flow, and the other section where the deviations and warnings are written and followed. The first section of the white board is divided according to the response times to show when each operator should have completed their work. Section 1 in figure 1 includes four phases: luovutus (delivery), valmistusvaihe (production), hankintavaihe (purchase), suunnitteluvaihe (designs). If operators knew they’re delayed from the schedule, they had to announce either a warning (yellow magnet) or a deviation (red magnet) and put the magnet on the card. Red magnet (deviation) indicates that the delivery date is in real danger. Yellow magnet (warning) indicates that the delivery date might be in danger. In section 2 the deviations and warnings were written on the board and followed according to the agreed follow-up dates. The research data was collected through section 2.

4. Findings

The aim of the analysis was to find the bottlenecks from the supply chain process in order to see what prevents the flow, and why the deliveries are being delayed. The analysis revealed a lot more: not only the bottlenecks, but also the lack of cross functional management in the organisation. The most important findings through the data and observations were:

  1. The theoretical process lead time, the time from order to expected delivery, was 62 days, not 80 days as previously expected. The total process time of manufacturing the buses was actually 22 % less than expected.
  2. Two of the departments were indicated as bottlenecks in the process: Sales and R&D/Design. The defined response times, for both of the departments, are at the early stage of the supply chain process, and if the response times were not met, the problems accumulated at the end causing severe consequences.
  3. The amount of deviations, which caused the actual delays of the deliveries, was three times greater than the amount of warnings, and more importantly, the deviations were accumulated at the end of the production process, where they were more critical with respect to on time delivery.
  4. Even though the response times were defined and agreed, it was noticed during the research, that the operators, who had to deliver the drawings or another deliverables, were not fully aware of their response times. It was also observed, that the response times were not followed regularly. Also there were no adequate systems to support the following of the response times.

All of these findings conclude, that the organisation is lacking of cross functional management. This will be more discussed in chapter 5.

4.1 Theoretical lead time, variation

Variation is one of the Lean laws, which prevent the unit to flow (Modig & Åhlström 2013.) The variation of the time, when order as received into the internal supply chain process, varies a lot. This is explained in the figures below.

Figure 2: The theoretical lead time, histogram
Figure 3: The theoretical lead time, boxplot

In figure 2, there can be seen a huge variation of theoretical lead time (starting from the point when the order comes in the process and ending when the bus is expected to be delivered). The bars in the histogram are spread widely, and the blue curve in the figure is very flat. So, the figure shows, that the orders were received into the process between 180 and 30 days before the bus was expected to be delivered. It is clear, if there is only 30 days time to deliver a bus instead of agreed 80 days, the organisation struggles to have the information, materials, drawings etc. in time. Figure 3 confirms the fact, that the most of the orders were received a lot later than expected. The boxplot shows (grey box with black lines on each side), that more than 75% of the orders are received into the process less than 80 days before the expected delivery. Both of the figures (figure 2 and 3) indicate the significant fact, that the organisation lives in an false assumption, where it has 80 days time to complete a bus, but the reality states, it only has 62 days in average.

4.2 Bottlenecks in the process

The bottlenecks were identified in time line and also in departments.

Figure 4: Bottlenecks in time line

In figure 4 the amount of deviations and warnings can be seen in time line. There are two spikes (inside the red circles), one at the end of the production line, but also at day 40 – 45. Having such an amount of deviations and warnings at days 40 – 45 indicates mostly that the drawings were not completed in time by the design/R&D department. At the end of the production line the deviations were mostly announced by the production manager, which meant that the problems were not indicated earlier during the process.

There are two departments, which can be identified as the bottlenecks in the process: Sales and R&D/Design. R&D and Design departments are very close to each other and the functions are mixed, therefore these two should be observed as a one department. Sales and R&D/Design departments make total of 71% of the deviations and warnings in the process.

Figure 5: Amount of deviations and warnings R&D, Design and Sales are the bottle necks.
Figure 6: The solution time: Sales and R&D are the worst when seeking for solutions.

In figure 7 the pie chart shows the amount of deviations and warnings per department. The average time to have a solution was 8 days (green line in figure 8). In figure 8 it can be seen, that Sales has a quite big variation in having the information for the rest of the organisation in time, even though the boxplot (the grey box) is located under the green line. In Sales (figure 8), the grey box without the black line indicates that 50% of the problems have been solved before 8 days, but in some cases it has taken even 40 days to have the final information. Also R&D struggles to have their solutions in reasonable time. In fact, the problem solving has taken constantly more than 10 days, as the grey box is located above 10 days. The root causes in general, for the deviations and warnings, were mainly missing information or the order was received too late (less than 80 days), also the drawings were late due to the lack of resources and naturally due to lack of information.

4.3 Amount of deviations and warnings

The amount of deviations and warnings were analysed. Total amount of deviations were 100 and warnings 32.

Figure 7: Bottle necks in time line, yellow warnings
Figure 8: Bottle necks in time line, red deviations

In figure 5 and 6 the amount of deviations and warning can be seen. There are three times more red deviations (N=100) as there are the yellow warnings (N=32). Red warning means that the delivery will be delayed and the yellow means that the delivery date might be in danger. Warnings have been mainly identified at the time where the drawings should have been completed (40 – 45 days), but the deviations have been clearly accumulated at the end of the process, meaning just before the bus is delivered. Both of these findings conclude, that the process is not controlled, which is seen as poor reliability of the deliveries.

4.4 Response times

The research method was based on response times and following them. If the response times were not met, the responsible operator had to announce them. At first, people felt very uncomfortable about visualizing the problems and to announce deviations and warnings. Earlier the organisation culture was used to handling the deviations in their own departments, in their own offices, so the TITO-method was a real cultural shock for the organisation. Operators felt that they were being blamed, when deviations and warnings were brought up. There needed to be a change in the organisational culture. One of the main findings of the case study was that the operators did not have tools to follow the schedule and takt time, or some of them were not even aware of their actual response times. In addition the agreed response times have been agreed many years ago and therefore there is a suspicion of if those are valid anymore. This was based on the fact that warning signs were not detected and announced early enough; therefore they were announced as deviations by the production manager.

5. Discussions and conclusions

The findings of the research indicate the fact, that the case company is missing effective cross functional management. The fact of having less time than expected reflects of lack of control in the process. There were no common rules in the organisation, in this context there were no common response time rules. Agreed common response time rules would help the organisation to control the variation. According to the observations, the Sales department does not know the deadlines for each change the customer would like to make, and this was considered to be one of the most critical issues in causing the deviations in the process. The changes were made too late in order for the entire supply chain to react. Additionally, the other departments were also lacking adequate control in their response times, which in fact defines the response times (deadlines) for the Sales also. This is indicated, when most of the deviations were found during the production process and then announced by the production manager. The deviations were, for example caused by the missing drawings, missing information, or issues which were not caused by the production itself. Lacking adequate control of the response times, means lacking of process management. There were no systems to identify the problems, or even if some departments had their own systems, the systems did not provide information for the other departments. There were no cross functionality between the control systems. Instead of identifying which department is guilty, the research concludes, that the organisation lacked common tools, methods and culture of managing the process cross functionally. None of the departments is guilty.

The case company has started to develop a new way of managing the internal supply chain process, which means changing the old cultural habits. There are a lot of positive indicators to support the organisation to succeed according to the literature review. These are: support from upper management, engaging the internal staff to implement the changes and the real motivation. (Monden 2012; Bhasin 2012). The support comes from Scania, which has implemented Lean already since 1997, and the motivation derives from a will to survive in the business. The organisation has realised, it needs to change.

There are three main issues to be improved in the organisation. First, the organisation should implement leader standard work from downstream to up-stream (Mann, 2010). With leader standard work the organisation has daily follow up meetings in each department, and the actions are visualised. Secondly, the KPIs should be integrated and reported in the daily meetings. For the case company, the response times are the most critical at this point and those need to be followed in order to control the process and detect the deviations and warnings earlier. KPIs should be reported from down to up, not just by the supervisors, creating accountability through the organisation. Also the response times agreed years ago, should be re-evaluated. Third, there should be examined other cross functional processes in the organisation and start to improve them. There are different cross functional processes, where the unit flows through the entire organisation, for example whenever a design change or a new innovation is implemented. These processes should also be controlled through visual planning and KPIs.

All of these three points focus on controlling the process by empowering people through reporting the KPI’s and to be accountable for their daily actions in order to achieve the targets. By having a control over the processes, abnormalities can be easier detected and improved. So, eventually the aim is to control, improve, eliminate waste and finally make the unit flow, which will lead the company to have a better reliability of the deliveries and eventually decrease the actual lead time. After the cross functional management is implemented in the organisation, the company is ready to implement other Lean techniques, like 5S is strongly recommended.


Miia Nietosvuori, Master’s student of International Business Management, Lahti University of Applied Sciences,

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CSR management and communication upstream a supply chain; an intermediary SME approach

1. Introduction

Importance of small and medium sized enterprises (SME) as a driving force of economy is widely discussed, especially when seeking remedies for the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008. Another topic gaining plenty of media coverage is corporate social responsibility (CSR); many well-known large companies have experienced reputation crises when their or their suppliers’ non-compliant actions in developing countries have been exposed to public attention. At the same time, outsourcing and networking are ever more common in any field of business, and more and more companies – including SME – are involved in international supply chains. Consequently, managing and communicating the CSR issues within the supply chain is crucial for risk reduction. The call for effective and reliable approach to both CSR and supply chain management (SCM) is therefore an acute topic not only in large organizations, but many SME, as well. Operating a global supply chain, especially sourcing products from developing countries makes CSR a complicated issue with limited resources of an SME.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss CSR management and communication within a global supply chain with an intermediary SME approach. There is plenty of research on both CSR and SCM, but mainly from larger company perspective. Research and literature on CSR from SME point of view is also available, but they often concentrate on SMEs acting as an individual organization and in the role of a supplier. Publications on CSM from SME point of view are quite scarce, as are articles discussing SME in an intermediary role within global supply chains.

In this paper, these tree topics are interlinked and discussed as an entity, which is based on a desktop research on published articles discussing CSR and SCM themes, emphasising ones with an SME and communicative approach. The articles were selected for the review by their relevance and accessibility. Firstly, the aim of this paper is to develop an overall perception on the current situation of CSR management and communication in SME, concentrating on the supply chain related issues. Secondly, the recommendations for good CSR and SCM practices suggested in the articles used are concluded as general guidelines for developing CSR and SCM processes in intermediary SME.

The document at hand is structured as follows: In the next two chapters, the methods and materials used are described and the key concepts and theoretical framework introduced. The analysis is divided to description of the current situation and recommendations for future development. In conclusion, the main findings of this paper are presented and needs for future research discussed in brief.

2. Key concepts and theoretical framework

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

United Nations define CSR as “a management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders.” ( CSR is often described as “Triple bottom line“, where company’s responsibilities include economic, environmental social imperative (Jussila 2010, 15, As mentioned above, stakeholder approach is core issue in CSR, as all activitied and development should be based on the needs of the stakeholders and dialogue with different stakeholder groups – employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, local communities etc. (Jussila 2010, 125)

CSR is a topical theme of discussion, as CSR issues are getting more media attention and the pressure from the stakeholders toward companied to be engaged in CSR is growing (Andersen & Skjoett-Larsen 2009,75. Welford & Frost 2006, 168). As consumers’ ethical needs are increasing, the importance of CSR management in retails rising which adds more pressure to the entire retail supply (Cosetta, Musso Risso 2009, 33). CSR approach is becoming more important not only for consumers but (partly due to the consumer pressure) it affects also business purchasing decisions (Hietbrink, Berens & Van Rekom 2010, 284). At the same time, relevance of CSR for company image has increased (Hietbrink et al. 2010, 284) and risk reduction is a major driver for engaging in CSR (Welford et al. 2006, 168), in particular with brand items. The clearer the company or trade mark brand is, the more vulnerable it is for damage from bad publicity due to breaches in CSR related issues (Welford et al. 2006, 168, 170). Many retail chain have introduced own house brand products, where the damage would be exceptionally severe as it reflects to the entire company image (Cosetta et al. 2009, 36). Safety recalls, quality and consumer issues are also often considered as a part of CSR (Carter & Jennings 2002, 37).

Supply chain management (SCM)

Supply chain managements means management of multiple relationships across a network of businesses called the supply chain. It gives the opportunity to gain synergy benefit from integrated processes and management within a company and between them (Lambert 65). The main components of SCM comprise the work flow/activity structure (i.e. division of work within the chain), organisational structure (i.e. integration of functional areas), structure of communication and information flow and methods for planning and control (Vaaland & Heide 2007, 21).

In the modern network economy, supply chains compete with one another as much as individual companies (Vaaland et al. 2007, 20, Lambert 65, Carte et al. 2009, 75). The importance of SCM increases along with the transitions from manufacturing business towards providing services, as well as from own manufacturing towards outsourcing and networking are (Howarth 674). Within a supply chain, companies can reduce costs and ensure profitability (Vaaland et al. 2007, 20), but at the same time, they become partly responsible of whatever happens upstream the supply chain.

Small and medium sized enterprise (SME)

European commission has a clear definition for SMEs:

“The category of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is made up of enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euro.) (Article 2 of the Annex of Recommendation 2003/361/EC as sited in SM User Guide 2014, 5)

Despite their limited size, SMEs have a significant role in the economy; eg. in the European Union alone there are approximately 23 million SMEs that employ 75 million people. Moreover, 99 % of all European enterprises fall to the category of micro, small or medium-sized enterprise. (SME User Guide 2014, 5)

3. Findings

The reality of CSR in supply chains

CSR management within supply chain
SCM has got even more attention with the CSR scandals arising from western companies manufacturing goods in the developing countries with lacking respect to environment, human rights an social issues (Andersen et al. 2009, 76). Often, these breached do not happen with the company itself but up the supply chain. In order to have credible and effective CSR policy, a company needs to ensure the behaviour of the entire supply chain it sources from (Cosetta et al. 2009, 36, Vaaland et al. 2007, 20, Ciliberti, Pontrandolfo & Scozzi 2008, 1579). It takes already plenty of effort to have CSR issues communicated and controlled with the direct suppliers, but involving second and third tier suppliers and auditing the reliably is challenge that can hardly be met, especially with SME resources (Welford et al. 2006, 170, Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1581). On the other hand, a single company engaging in CSR affect an entire business network and supply routes and thus have much wider and deeper impact than expected (Cosetta et al. 2009, 54). Whether a company sees CSR from doing good – perspective or aims at gaining competitive advantage of it, the entire supply chain must be involved in order to have long lasting results of one’s own actions.

Pressure up the retail supply chain
As the consumer pressure increases in retail and the brands need to be protected from damaging publicity, the pressure to engage in CSR does not stop the retailers but affects the entire supply chain. (Welford et al. 2006, 168, 170, Hietbrink et al. 2010, 284). According to most research, CSR may and should add willingness to buy from the company (e.g. Hietbrink et al. 2010, 284). Especially when CSR is particularly important for the company’s image, company buyers consider the consumer pressure on CSR when choosing the suppliers Hietbrink et al. 2010, 296). In case if quality and price are equal, well-managed CSR may be the deciding factor in benefit for a certain supplier. The importance of CSR in procurement process increases, if the purchased product plays a major physical part in customer’s own end product (Hietbrink et al. 2010, 295). For a company in intermediary supply chain position that provides services by supplying products from other manufacturers this is crucial, as the physical product delivered is eventually sold to consumer as such.

Contradictory demands
Though most customer companies in supply chains do appreciate CSR effort, they are seldom willing to reward the practitioners of CSR enough to cover the costs induced (Hietbrink et al. 2010, 296). Tight price competition makes CSR development in supply chain harder, as customers are not willing to pay for the CSR engagement that they nevertheless require to be implemented up the supply chain (Welford et al. 2006, 171). In addition to lower price, retailer customers require shorter lead times, constant update of the products to meet the latest requirements or trends and seasonal products to be delivered within a tight time frame, which is in contradiction with the CSR aim to comply with legal working time limits in manufacturing (Welford et al. 2006, 171).

Challenges in implementation and communication 
In practice, even the big players in retail are struggling to communicate and implement their CSR principles and use codes of conduct to instruct and control their supplier in the global supply chain. There seems to be a contradiction in the companies’ policies and how well they manage to root the principals to their suppliers (Andersen et al. 2009, 75-78). At the same time, the ones producing CSR communication seem to find it more successful than the targeted audience (Dawkins 2004, 113). Also for the CSR implementation in the supply chain, the most common approach is quite straightforward: companies have a code of conduct for suppliers and regular monitoring for compliance. In case of non-compliance, the measures vary from warning to immediate cutting of the contract. Many CSR managers would prefer mutual engagement to CSR from earlier stage and developing the operations in cooperation with the suppliers, but with limited resources this seldom is possible. (Welford et al. 2006, 169)

Power distribution in the supply chain
Key actors of the supply chain are usually the large retailers from the developed countries. They can affect consumer choices, experience the pressure from the consumer and take most responsibility towards them. At the same time they define the target level of CSR, stipulate it up the supply chain and, due to their size, also have the most power to influence with their bargaining power. (Andersen et al. 2009, 77, Cosetta et al. 2009, 35) The larger the firm is and more resources it has, the easier it is to attract suppliers and get them committed to the customer’s CSR policies (Andersen et al. 2009, 82, Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1580). The possibility to affect a supplier is highly dependent on the relevant power structure: the bigger share of the business of the supplier comes from a customer, the more its needs and concerns are listened and met (Vaaland et al. 2007, 201). Correspondingly, intermediary SME’s are in a weaker position within their supply chains, often to both directions. Large retailers have specific demands on CSR that SME’s must follow (Cosetta et al. 2009, 38), but at the same time, SME may have difficulties in implementing CSR with their own suppliers. SME’s can introduce codes of conduct, but it is questionable whether they are regarded as important as the ones of larger customer. Even the sanctions used for CSR breaches are less effective, when coming from a minor customer. (Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1581)

CSR in SME’s
For SME’s, the motives for CSR activity differ from the ones of larger corporations; potential business benefits and personal values of the owners / managers play a larger role, whereas pressure from NGO’s etc. is lesser. In SME’s, CSR can be more easily than in large organizations embedded to company culture an identity, as owners’/managers’ values in general are more visible in the company. (Nielsen & Thomsen. 2009, 185) Engagement in CSR and customer requirements can be seen either as a threat, a necessary evil or a business opportunity; the approach is much dependent on the owners/managers views. (Howarth 679) At the same time, external factors, especially customer demands are a priority for SME’s in CSR decision making (Howarth 675). Partly outside the triple-bottom-line approach, the quality of the products and services is also often considered as major a part of social responsibility in SME’s (Suprawan, de Bussy & Dickinson 2009, 3-5.).

Scarcity of resources allocated for CSR is a constraining factor in most organisations (Welford et al. 2006, 168), but especially in SMEs where having competence and know-how on CSR is also not as widespread as in large corporations. Other SME specific CSR challenges are also recognized: Large customer tend to be very demanding in their codes of conduct, without understanding the limitations of SME’s and external support for SME’s in developing their CSR policy and operations is inadequately, while they at the same time gain less direct advantage from implementing CSR than the large companies. (Cosetta et al. 2009, 38) For SMES’s, having a sufficient, credible CSR system and communication with suppliers is crucial for being competitive towards large customers, but making it profitable is a major challenge, as putting a price tag on good CSR and SC management is often not possible. Many CSR efforts in SME’s are tackled by the high cost, both internally and in the form of higher purchase prices (Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1580).

SCM in SME’s
When it comes to supply chain management, SME’s seldom have effective systems, techniques and tools at use. Also, they are less satisfied with the current supply chain situation than larger organizations. Implementing SCM in full extent is challenging for SMES’, as their own operations are often practically stipulated by large customers’ requirements. (Vaaland et al. 2007, 21) However, if SME’s are not strengthening their SCM, there is a risk that they’ll lose even more bargaining power with the larger links of the chain: not only the customers, but also suppliers which eventually will result in lesser competitive power. (Vaaland et al. 2007, 28.) Auditing is another crucial phase in credible CSR process within a global supply chain, but it is especially challenging for SME’s with supplier around the globe: having internal auditors is not possible, but finding a reliable, cost effective third-party inspector to do it is not easy, either (Welford et al. 2006, 169,171. Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1580.)

External communication 
SMEs recognize the importance of clear and truthful communication, as well as the necessity to differ the approach to different stakeholder groups (Suprawan et al. 2009, 5). However, SMEs’ approach to CSR communication is unsystematic and they try adapt some of the communication practices of the bigger companies) but are unable to execute them as such (Nielsen et al. 2009, 177). CSR communication is often focused on internal communication instead of external (Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1580). Many SME’s concentrate on building informative one-way communication to their customers, but tend to forget other external stakeholders, such as suppliers (Nielsen et al. 2009, 185). SME’s often lack a written code of contact, but relay on interpersonal communications (Suprawan et al. 2009, 6-7). Even though SME’s are able to build dialogue and long term relationships with key suppliers often more effectively than larger organisations (Nielsen et al. 2009, 185), this ad-hoc approach instead of written policies and codes of conduct is eating too may resources when there many customers and suppliers to communicate with.

Combined a challenge
Therefore, developing CSR implementation in the entire supply chain is a particular challenge for many SME’s but also necessity for future success of the business. Combination of developed CSR and SCM is especially important, as both these issues gain public interest and media coverage so far the big retail companies are the most affected, bot for SME, a similar reputation scandal could be even more lethal. (Nielsen et al. 2009, 185). This, however, is a true challenge; If even the big players in retail are struggling to implement their CSR principles in their supply chain (Andersen et al. 2009, 75), what are the realistic possibilities for SME’s to do the same?

Guidelines for future development

Profitable CSR with customer in mind
SME’s should develop their CSR process with the customer oriented perspective at the forefront. CSR activities should meet the customers’ preferences and requirements in order to attract business (Hietbrink et al. 2010, 296). This would also increase the possibilities to gain competitive advantage and to make CSR profitable, as CSR actions and communication can more effectively be presented to a customer as added value to the service or product if they match the customers’ needs and concerns (Dawkins 2004, 109). Listening to the customers, market and public discussion constantly is crucial, as situation changes all the time and a company must react and update its CSR policy and communication likewise (Morsing & Schultz. 2006, 323).

Integrated CSR
In order to enhance CSR in its supply chain, SME’s need to have CSR integrated in their entire organisation (Andersen et al. 2009, 81). CSR and communicating the responsibility issues should be embedded in all key processes and personnel from all functions as specialists in their own field made involved in developing the company practices further (Dawkins 2004, 118). Internal communication on CSR should be open, as the dialogue between leaders and employees increases not only understanding of CSR within the organization but also enhances the external communication (Suprawan et al. 2009, 5). Internal sense-making, trainging and personnel involvement in CSR is crucial for effective supplier communication on a day-today basis (Howarth 681. Suprawan et al. 2009, 4). Purchasing and logistics functions are a key player in CSR development in the supply chain, as it has the closest interactions with the suppliers (Carter et al. 2002, 38)

Tools and systematic approach
Introducing tools and systematic approach to both CSR and SCM would make the internal processes more effective and reliable, but also get the suppliers better involved in CSR (Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1587). The most important management tools for CSR in SCM are written policies and requirements to suppliers (eg. code of conduct), performance monitoring (internal and supplier auditing system) and awareness building (educating suppliers systematically). (Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1580) SME’s should also get acquainted with the most common practices and guidelines in CSR and SCM, and follow them whenever possible in order to avoid conflicts with requirements from larger companies that suppliers meet.

Involving CSR
Knowledge enhancing is important both internally and externally: training own personnel and engaging them to CSR is a prerequisite for dispensing the ideas to partners and suppliers, as well. Constant dialogue on CSR issue with the supplier eventually creates a shared frame of reference and creates true commitment to CSR practices (Andersen et al. 2009, 81-82). Building a network,  investing in trusting long term supplier relations and developing CSR issues in cooperation makes CSR implementation the supply chain more effective (Andersen et al. 2009, 82. Welford et al. 2006, 170. ). From a supplier point of view, this learning approach eventually improves the position in competition, which is an effective motivation for cooperation and CSR implementation (Carter et al. 2002, 48). Better cooperation and introducing CSR thinking within the supply chain also improves suppliers performance in quality, lead time and efficiency (Carter et al. 2002, 46).

CSR communication strategy
When choosing the strategy for CSR communication with their supplier, SME’s can choose from various approaches. The traditional, mostly informative and one-way, CSR communication strategy is based on risks, standards and compliance (Howarth 676. Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1580.). Internally, the control-power approach means that managers communicate CSR and delegate responsibility downwards, and similar thinking is applied towards suppliers: in order to avoid risks, an individual or a supplier has to fulfil the defined standard is or a punishment will follow (Howarth 680).

Another strategy, believed to be more beneficial but perhaps more arduous to implanted, emphasizes capacity building, creation and empowerment: CSR policies are developed in internal dialogue as well as in dialogue with suppliers, which creates true commitment and concentrates more on new possibilities and shared responsibility (Howarth 680. Ciliberti et al. 2008, 1580). Common involvement in social responsibility seems to enhance trust, commitment and cooperation within the supply chain and prevents opportunism (Carter et al. 2002, 46. Morsing et al. 2006, 324), which is important for an intermediatory SME whose success relies on trustworthy long term relationships both up and down the supply chain. This mentoring approach also means transition from reactive to proactive thinking (Howarth 676, 681.), which enhances seeing CSR as an opportunity instead of a burden at all levels of the supply chain.

Supplier perspective
Especially for suppliers in developing countries, external pressure, i.e. customer demands, is at currently the most significant motive of engaging in CSR activities and communication (Welford et al. 2006, 168). However, suppliers are also waking up, as the consequences of exploiting employees and environment are becoming visible (e.g. shortage on work force, water, waste and pollution issues) (Welford et al. 2006, 173.) Also, learning more about CSR and embedding it to the processes is becoming a competitive factor for the suppliers, as well (Welford et al. 2006, 171): with developed CSR, they can maintain a higher sales price, save costs, attract more customers, but also be more attractive as an employer. Therefore it seems, that now is a good time to kick-start CSR discussion with the supplier, as they have an internal driver for it, too.

4. Conclusion

The concepts of corporate social responsibility and supply chain management are tightly interlinked in the modern business model based on networks and subcontracting. Implementing and communicating their CSR policies successfully in a supply chain is challenging, and at the same the pressure and contradictory demands are increasing. Bargaining power within the supply chain defines the possibilities of a company to introduce CSR requirement, and SME’s are in weaker position doe to their limited size and influence.

SME’s engage in CSR for somewhat different motives than larger companies but are well aware of the importance of the issues. However, SME’s struggle more with the scarce resources for CSR implementation, as well as find it difficult to make their CSR efforts pay off. Non-systematic approach to supply chain management and communication make the combined challenge even more arduous to overcome.

When developing their CSR communication within the supply chain, the SME’s should concentrate on issues most relevant for their own customers. Integrating and involving approaches to CSR are the most effective both internally and externally, and introducing management tools and systematic approach builds up the process. Capacity-building oriented communications strategy enhances constant development and knowledge sharing, but also increases supplier commitment.

In conclusion, this paper shed some light on the reality of SME’s operating in a global supply chain with tightening CSR requirement, but combining the aspects of CSR, SCM and SME would be topic worth further research. Surveying the perceptions of SME’s dealing with these issues would also assist in creating better tools for supporting SME’s in various supply chains and networks and enhance best practices of implementing CSR in SME’s.


Milka Pääkkönen, MBA student of Business Management and Entrepreneurship, HAMK University of Applied Sciences,

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Impact of the Summer Olympics and FIFA World Cup on micro and small enterprises in Brazil


Much has been written about the economic impact of hosting the Summer Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. Without doubt, these are the biggest two sporting events in the world. Only once before have these two events been conducted in the same country within a two year period, the minimum time which can separate these two events. Mexico hosted the Summer Olympics in 1968 and the World Cup in 1970. Each event is conducted every four years.

This paper will provide a brief history of each event, leading up to the upcoming 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, both to be held in Brazil. Following, will be an analysis of the recent economic impact of each of these events on the host nation. Finally, the comparative expected impact of each event on Brazil, and in particular the impact on small business formation in Brazil, will be discussed.

History of the Summer Olympics

A little history of the modern Summer Olympic Games will help the reader understand the 100 plus year growth in the economic importance of the Summer Olympic Games. The Games have been conducted every four years since 1896, The first modern summer Olympics was held in 1896 in Athens. In 1900, Paris hosted the 2nd Olympiad, followed by St Louis (1904), London (1908) and Stockholm in 1912. After a hiatus due to World War I, the quadrennial event continued until 1936, then suspended for 1940 and 1944, then continuing, uninterrupted from 1948 until the last Olympics in 2012, held in London.

With few exceptions, such as the period of the Great Depression and political boycott, each modern Olympics has generally seen increases in participation, audience and economic impact. The 1896 Olympics was conducted over a 10 day period and was a then largest sporting event ever held. The 1900 Olympics in Paris attracted more than four times the number of athletes and, integrated with the World’s Fair, was conducted over e period of five months, and included participation by 20 women.

The 1904 Games were held in St Louis, the first time outside Europe, and again in conjunction with the World’s Fair and was also spread over five months. As it seems with most Olympics, a pivotal event or person is especially memorable. In this case, the “star’ of this Olympics was George Eyser, who won 6 medals, despite having only one leg.

1908 saw the Olympics awarded to London, where the first standard length marathon was run.  1912’s games were awarded to Stockholm where Jim Thorpe won two gold medals, only to have them stripped from him for violation of the amateur code of the Olympic Games. (The medals were later reinstated in 1983, 30 years after his death)

Recommencing after WWI, the 1920 games in Antwerp drew another record number of competitors, only to be surpassed in 1924 by the Paris Olympic with 3000 competitors. The 1928 Games in Amsterdam saw two innovations – female athletes in track and field events and the first commercial sponsorship – by Coca Cola.

The 1932 Games in Los Angeles saw a reduction in competitors, due to the onset of the Great Depression. The 1936 games in Berlin, a showcase for Hitler’s Aryan superiority, are remembered for the multiple gold medal performances by Jesse Owens, an African-American.

The Games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944, with them returning to London in 1948, then Helsinki in 1952. The Melbourne Games of 1956 were the first to see the introduction of televised coverage. The 1960 Games are remembered for the performance of boxer Cassius Clay – Mohammad Ali.

In Tokyo in 1964, the modern age of satellite communications began the era of a global television audience and began the true commercialization of the event. In 1968 the Games moved to Mexico City, where the high jump was forever changed with the introduction of the “Fosbury Flop” and the Games were further politicized by the Black Power salute by American athletes on the medal podium. Politics grabbed the world’s attention with the 1972 Munich Games, when “Black September” terrorists invaded the Olympic Village and captured the Israeli team. The Munich games attracted over 7000 competitors and a record 112 countries.

1976 saw another turning point in the evolution of the Olympics. In this case it was the adverse financial consequences of the Games, held in Montreal, which incurred a debt of over $5 billion – more than $25 Billion in 2014 dollars. Political protest again occurred as African nations boycotted the Games to protest the New Zealand rugby team’s tour of Apartheid South Africa.

1980 saw the Games held in Moscow where 66 nations, including the U.S., Canada, West Germany and Japan all boycotted the Games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. For the following Games, in 1984 in Los Angeles, the Soviet Union and 13 allies boycotted the games in retaliation of the 1980 boycott.

The followed the 1988 Games (Seoul), the 1992 Games (Barcelona) and the 1996 Games in Atlanta. The Atlanta Games are remembered for the “Atlanta bomber” but financially it marked the first time the Games attracted more than 10,000 competitors. Subsequent Games in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) saw successive increases in participants (to almost 11,000) and participating countries to over 200.

The 2012 Games in London resulted in an estimated 20 million visitors to the city and $14 billion in revenues generated. Over four billion viewers watched the opening ceremony – making it the most watched TV event in history.

Thus we have a condensed history of the Summer Olympic Games, leading to the 2016 games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, which beat out Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago for the hosting honor.

Benefits and costs of the Olympics

But what of the benefits and costs to the host city? Given that around two-thirds of the world’s population watches some part of the Olympics, there are both obvious public relations and financial implications of hosting the Games.

As previously mentioned, Montreal was left billions in debt, while Barcelona’s public debt rose to $6.1 billion as a consequence of the Games. Atlanta claims to have broken even, as did Sydney, but there is little evidence of an economic boom as a result of hosting. In fact, an Arthur Anderson survey on hotel occupancy indicated that while Sydney saw near 100% occupancy during the Games (a 49% increase over the period immediately preceding the Olympics), occupancy rates in Melbourne and Brisbane saw 19% and 17% drops in occupancy rate during the Olympics as compared to the early September figures. Overall, with the exception of Sydney (and for some reason, Adelaide), there was an overall nationwide decline in hotel occupancy in September 2000, compared to September 1999. (Anderson, 2000)

This substitution effect may apply to specific corporations as well as to alternate cities. For example, might the increase in occupancy at a Hilton hotel in Rio de Janeiro result from a decrease in occupancy in, say, Buenos Aries?

One should also consider the possibility of a smaller event generating the same incremental benefits. There is a capacity limit beyond which facilities cannot accommodate additional economic activity. Perhaps a smaller event – like the Commonwealth Games, for example – might fill the host city to capacity but cost considerably less to host.

When Athens won the right to host the 2004 Olympics, the budget was estimated to be $1.6 billion. The final public cost was around $16 billion. In addition, annual maintenance costs on the now under-utilized facilities is costing well in excess of $100 million a year. Some of the Olympic venues sit unused. (In fact, it was the probability of such happening that caused Chicago, in its bid for 2016, to propose it would dismantle and recycle the materials used in erecting Olympic venues.)

Other cities have been more successful in utilizing Olympic facilities. Atlanta’s two main Olympic stadia are now Turner Field (Braves Baseball) and Georgia Dome (Falcons football). The Olympic Village is used as dormitories for Georgia Tech. Urban redevelopment certainly helped Atlanta’s revitalization efforts.

History of the FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup has been conducted every four years since 1930, with the exception of 1942 and 1946, due to WWII. It is held two years after (or before) the Summer Olympics. The quadrennial event resulted from the amateur code of the Olympics, which conflicted with the growing professionalism of football (soccer).

The World Cup final is the world’s most widely viewed single sporting event, with a global audience of over one billion people and a cumulative audience that exceeds that of the Olympic Games. The cumulative audience of the 2006 World Cup was estimated to be 26.29 billion.

The first host country was Uruguay, followed by Italy (1934), France (1938), Brazil (1950), Switzerland (1954), Sweden (1958), Chile (1962), England (1966), Mexico (1970), West Germany (1974), Argentina (1978), Spain (1982), Mexico (1986), Italy (1990), USA (1994), France (1998), South Korea/Japan (2002), Germany (2008) and South Africa (2010).

The first World Cup was televised in 1954 and commercialization and popularity of the event has grown annually ever since. Attendance at all venue games now exceeds three million.

Benefits and costs of the FIFA World Cup

Much like the available data for the Olympics, the economic benefits of hosting the World Cup do not paint a picture of huge financial benefits. However, as Matheson (2009) points out, although “studies of the 2006 World Cup in Germany showed that the country experienced little in the way of improvements in income or employment figures… surveys noted a noticeable improvement in residents’ self-reported levels of happiness following the event” (imagine if Germany had won!). The World Cup didn’t make Germans rich, but it appeared to make them happy.

Especially in the case of developing countries, one may raise the question of the opportunity cost and value of expending scarce public capital on venues which may have only marginal utility following the event. This is true of both the World Cup and the Olympics. A developing country needs far more capital expended to provide the nationwide infrastructure required for a mega-event like the World Cup. It is these very countries to which the cost of capital is higher than for richer countries. In addition, developing countries may better spend the infrastructure “dollars” on projects other than stadia and the roads to simply get to them.

Further, tourists tend to be attracted by more developed countries as venues. In the 2002 World Cup, hosted jointly by Japan and Korea, occupancy rates for the Japanese stadia were 88.7% while Korean stadia filled only 73.9% of seats, excluding games involving the “home” team and the finals. Remember, in the late 1990s, Japan’s GDP per capita was almost 80% higher than Korea’s.

Comparison of the two events

From the preceding, it would appear that neither event represents a potential windfall for the hosts. However, the basic differences in the two events need to be recognized.

The Olympics is awarded to a city. Although various events may be spread around outside the host city, these tend to be the more minor events. The real audience draw is for events occurring in the host city. While some country teams might set up training camps in various cities in advance of the actual Games, the vast majority of the infrastructure of the Games is focused on the host city. Tourists flock to the host city, global TV coverage focuses on the host city and to a great extent, most of the structural improvements and construction finances are spent in the host city.

In addition, the Olympics are focused over a condensed time period. The Rio de Janeiro Games are scheduled for 16 days – 5-21 of August. In addition, the host city hosts the Paralympic Games for 12 days (7-18 September) with almost 5000 handicapped athletes expected to compete, and over one million ticket sales. Further, television coverage continues to expand, resulting in added Olympic-based benefits.

By comparison, the FIFA World Cup is awarded to a country. In the case of the 2014 World Cup, obviously the major focus city is Rio de Janeiro, where the final will be played. The World Cup will take place over a period of a month – 12 June to 13 July, approximately double the time of the Olympics. Further, the games of the 2014 World Cup will be spread over 12 cities – each the capital of its state. Each of the 32 participating nations has a “base camp”, spread out over the entire country.

In addition, in the year preceding the World Cup, the Confederations Cup is awarded to the World Cup hosts. It uses half the stadia which will be used the following year in the World Cup. Held from 15-30 June, 2013, it included 8 qualifying nations. According to a study released by the Economic Research Institute Foundation and published by the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism, the Confederations Cup created 300,000 jobs, $9.3bn in financial transactions and added $4.7bn to Brazilian GDP. However, these data are likely to be quite optimistic.

According to estimates by Ernst and Young, the amount invested in infrastructure around the country, primarily due to the World Cup, will exceed $10bn, while Valente and Tur cite a November 2012 estimate of $14.7bn. However, if one adds private investment, the Brazilian Association of Infrastructure and Basic Industries concluded that the investments in urban mobility, Information Technology, public security, sanitation, electricity, hotels and hospitals is roughly $62.4bn.

As one can see, comparing the benefits of the two events is quite complex. Overall, one can conclude the Olympics may generate a more culturally broad-based tourism boast, as competing athletes (and their fans) come from around 200 countries. The bulk of the economic benefits accrue to the host city, although some benefits may accrue to the various training camp cities.

The World Cup has a longer “life”, extending from the beginning of the Confederations Cup to the end of the World Cup – approximately 13 months (compared to the Olympics/Paralympics approximate 6 weeks of competition). The economic benefits are more systematically spread across the country, with multiple games played in 12 cities. The economic benefits can currently be easily seen across Brazil, with public works projects underway in each of the host cities. Public investment in new roads, public transport systems, enhanced airports, power grid and information handling plus private investment in hotels, restaurants and other tourist support activities are geographically spread across the main population centers of the country.

Comparing results from the past

There is much post-facto evidence to suggest that the net financial gain from hosting either the Olympics or the World Cup has not been very significant for past host cities and countries. However, each host represents a different set of circumstances and outcomes may need to be measured differently. In the case of Brazil, the long-term benefits of enhanced public transportation alone should be significant. Favelas (very poor, generally crime-ridden neighbourhoods) have been cleared and many people relocated to improved and safer housing. Compare Rio to Berlin or London, where improvements needed in public transportation for the latter were relatively minimal but the cost of acquiring land to develop sports sites were much greater.

One must also consider that there is an efficiency in hosting both events in such a short period of time. In some cases, the cost of stadium construction can be spread over two events, while public spending may be better justified because the combined “tourism boost” period of both events extends from mid-June 2013 to mid-September 2016 – more than 3 years.

Finally, as pointed out with increased “happiness” in Germany following the 2006 World Cup, certain intangible benefits may result. France was culturally changed by the 1998 World Cup. All of a sudden signs and announcements were being made dually in French and English. The Queen song, “We are the Champions” echoed around Stade de France after France won the final. France became more “international” as a result of hosting the event. Likewise in Germany, aside from the aforementioned “happiness”, for the first time German flags were flying everywhere. The newly re-united Germany came of age with the World Cup. Brazil is likely to enjoy similar benefits. In the past, there was a concept of “Island Brazil”, an idea that Brazil’s economy could operate without internationalization. There was little drive to teach English. Now there are English (and other language) classes being taught to all sorts of members of the service industry – taxi drivers, hotel workers, retail store employees – even prostitutes. The country is already exhibiting a sense of confidence in its place in the global economy.

Impact on micro and small businesses

According to the Institute of Applied Economic Research, small businesses were responsible for 40 percent of the 15 million new jobs created in Brazil. Brazil now has about 6 million micro and small enterprises. The government defines micro enterprises in manufacturing as those employing up to 19 people, while small enterprises are those employing between 20 and 99 workers. In the retail sector, micro enterprises employ up to 9 workers and small enterprises between 10 and 49 workers.

Marcelo Neri, a Brazilian economist (Economist newspaper) states that the middle class in Brazil now makes up more than half of the nations’ population, growing from 35% in 1990 to 50% in 2012. Some commentators, according the Economist article, suggest the new middle class is entrepreneurial. These trends would suggest that much of the benefits from hosting the World Cup and secondarily, the Olympics, would to a great extent accrue to the entrepreneurial middle class, rather than solely to large domestic corporations and multinationals.

A research organization in Brazil, SABRAE, has performed a study to identify opportunities for Micro and Small Businesses in each of the World Cup host cities. Nine sectors were identified:

  • Civil Construction
  • Information Technology
  • Tourism
  • Tourism-related production
  • Retail
  • Services
  • Clothing
  • Wood and Furniture
  • Agribusiness

Further, three distinct stages can be identified – pre-event, event and post-event. One could identify differing time periods in different parts of the country.

For the six cities areas impacted by the Confederations cup, the pre-event period would be up to mid-June, 2013. For other World Cup venues, the pre-event period extends to mid-June 2014. The event period likewise will be different for the Confederations Cup venues and the World Cup only venues.

The post-event period will be either from the end of the World Cup matches in the regional centers, or the end of the Paralympics in the case of Rio de Janeiro.

The study completed by SABRAE details opportunities in each of these business sectors, in each regional center in each of the three periods of time. This presents a matrix of opportunities. Given the emerging, entrepreneurial middle class in Brazil, it is likely that micro and small businesses may be in a position to take advantage of the business opportunities that will arise from hosting the World Cup. Further, those in Rio de Janeiro can additionally benefit from the business opportunities generated by the Summer Olympic Games.

The estimated direct costs of hosting the World Cup are roughly $18bn, while the Olympics will cost an additional $15bn, for an estimated total cost of $33bn (Sverrisson). Of course, accurate allocation of costs to one event over the other is somewhat arbitrary. For example, renovation of the main soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro will also benefit the Olympics.

Overall, combining the Ernst and Young estimate of an economic impact of $70bn generated by the World Cup and the estimate of the University of Sao Paulo the Olympics would generate $51.1bn, yields a total impact of over $120bn in gross economic impact.

It is estimated in the case of Rio de Janeiro, for every dollar invested, $3.26 will be generated until 2027, with an impact on GDP of $13bn. Additionally, 120,000 new jobs will be generated per year until 2016.

Based on these, albeit rosy, estimates, the return on investment looks pretty good. However, few independent observers are “sold” on the accuracy of these estimates, and point to the previous rosy estimated that went unfulfilled at each of the recent previous venues for both the Olympics and the World Cup. However, although the short term benefits may not live up to the hype of the supporters, some of the infrastructure investments may be a driving force for economic growth in the long run. Improved roads and railways, telecommunications, electricity distribution and IT, and enhanced tourism facilities could all be a catalyst for image building, long term investment and growth.


This paper has presented an overview of the comparative impact of the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games, and the secondary events related to each of these major events. In terms of event duration and geographic spread, the World Cup presents the greatest economic growth opportunities.

On the other hand, the Olympic Games provides a culturally broader yet geographically concentrated window of opportunity for business activities. The Olympic Games also provides greater variety in the types of venues which are developed, the cultural diversity of those tourists visiting the country and unique opportunities catering to the specific needs of the handicapped in connection with the Paralympic Games. This will obviously provide long term benefits to the handicapped in Brazil.

Especially for those in Rio de Janeiro, the combined opportunities related to both events are enormous. But even in the least impacted areas – those cities which host only World Cup games – the pre-event, event and post-event business opportunities are significant.

The end result should be a Brazil which will benefit from a large short term boost in economic activity but also a significant long term boost due to improved infrastructure and an enhanced global view. The physical (like public transportation and technology) and personal infrastructure (self-confidence and language skills) will be in place for long term economic benefit.


Dr Peter J. Gordon, Professor, Southeast Missouri State University, USA,

Dr Francisco Vidal Barbosa, Professor, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil,

Agencia EFE, “Small businesses account for 40 pct of jobs created in Brazil”, April 30, 2013.

Barney, Robert K.,  (2009, October 2), “Planning makes the difference”, The New York Times. Retrieved from

Business Day, (2014) “Brazil made $4bn from Confederations Cup, says report”. Retrieved from Accessed 11 April, 2014.

Cavusgil, S. Tamer and Ilke Kardes, (2013) “Brazil: Rapid development, internationalization and middle class formation”, Revista Elecronica de Negocios Internationais, v. 8, (1). pp. 1-16.

Guerrero, Antonio, (2010) “Play On”, Global Finance. Unknown origin.

Hussein, Taha, (2013) “Effects of World Cup & Olympics on Brazil’s Economy”, Sports Marketing, August 21.

Kirby, William C. (2009, October 2), “A huge improvement for Beijing”, The New York Times, Retrieved from

Kubo, Hiromi, (2014, January) “The social and economic impact of hosting the Olympic Games”. College and Research News, vol 75, (1), pp. 24-27.

Matheson, Victor, (2009. October 2) “Happiness and other intangible benefits”, The New York Times. Retrieved from

Statistica (2012). “Cumulative TV Viewership of the Olympic Summer Games worldwide from 1996 to 2012”, Retreived from

Sverrisson, Sverrir, (2012, August 27). “The Economic Impacy of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics”, Open API Portfolio Service.

The Economist.  (2012, November 10) “A Decade of Social Progress has created a Bigger Middle Class – but not yet Middle-class Societies” pp. 14:53

Tonner, Samantha, (2010). “Another BRIC in the Wall: How Brazil will Benefit from Sporting and Investment Success”, Wealth and Living Magazine. Unknown origin.

Valente Airton Saboya Jr. and Joan Noguera Tur, “Mega Sporting Events and Legacy: The Case of the 2014 World Cup”, unpublished research paper.

Zimbalist, Andrew, (2009, October 2). “Not a rosy picture”, The New York Times, Retrieved from

Zimbalist, Andrew, (2011, Summer) “Brazil’s Long To-Do List”, Sports: Business, Integration and Social Change. Unknown origin.

Education export – what does it mean?

Export of expertise in education

In spring 2009 Finpro launched a project aiming at building the national cluster for education export named later on “Future Learning Finland”. In July 2009 Minister Henna Virkkunen appointed a working group to prepare an export strategy for Finnish education by the end of 2009. Work of the group was supposed to contribute towards creating a Finnish educational export cluster with Finpro’s Future Learning Finland project. Here politic social context there was the need for defining “education export” or find another term for export of services related to the Finnish know-how in education.

To find a term for phenomenon entitled “education export” in New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain and US was one goal of “Report on the export of Finnish education expertise – Thoughts for export promotion based on experiences of Future Learning Finland network (Juntunen 2010).” Besides, defining the chosen term in the Finnish context was part of the report’s goals.

It was suggested on report that “export of education expertise” (in Finnish: koulutusosaamisen vienti) is more accurate term than “education export” to describe nature of the Finnish education export business. The first argument of a short concept analysis was that the latter term refers to only educational services, but the Finnish offering includes also e.g. consulting services and technological solutions for facilitating learning processes. In fact, the Finnish offering differs radically from the offerings of countries where English are spoken as a native language. In those countries the import of foreign students constituted the most significant revenue source of education export business. For instance in New Zealand volume of foreign students’ import was 95% of the total revenues (the Economic Impact of export education 2009, 1).

Secondly, it was stated on report that the previous term refers to the fact that in case of Finland existence of business in sector called “education export” in many English-speaking countries must be based on internationally recognized expertise in education related issues. Expertise in education means that the Finnish system of education is high quality and self-renewing, the Finnish education providers have modern and future oriented concepts of learning and learning environments, and the Finnish education professionals are equipped with modern views of pedagogy. Without continuous invest on development of education and creation of learning-related innovate environments as well as branding the Finnish expertise in education and developing the Finnish offering to global education markets, the Finnish exporters face difficulties in convincing potential clients of the value of Finnish offering. Their main clients are not foreign students and degree programs in Finland cannot be the main products. (Juntunen 2010, 3)

On the report export of the Finnish education expertise was defined as export of the expertise in education based products, services and solutions for foreign clients (with two exceptions) and beneficiaries by tapping all potential modes of mobility of services across the borders. Private persons (like students and education staff), national, regional or local authorities, national or international third sector organizations (such as such as EuropeAid), and private companies and their customers were considered to constitute potential clients and consumers segment the Finnish education expertise export (Juntunen 2010, 3).

According to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS 1994, 285-286) there are four modes for mobility of education services:

  1. Cross-border supply: Service delivered within the territory of the Member, from the territory of another Member Service supplier not present within the territory of the member.
  2. Consumption abroad: Service delivered outside the territory of the Member, in the territory of another Member, to a service consumer of the Member.
  3. Commercial presence: Service delivered within the territory of the Member, through the commercial presence of the supplier Service supplier present within the territory of the Member.
  4. Presence of a natural person: Service delivered within the territory of the Member, with supplier present as a natural person.

Reason of identifying client segments and modes of service mobility across the borders as a part of concept analysis was to provide framework for analytical discussion on the Finnish export of education expertise. The main argument regarding clients was that instead of individuals the main client segment are authorities. As to GATS modes of mobility the main message was that without commercial presence in the main markets and without virtual services education sector cannot constitute a significant new export sector by 2015, because Finland cannot be the destination of consuming training services abroad due to legislation denying tuition fees.

Education export

In 2009 the working group, which prepared the education export strategy for approval of the Council of State noted that the “export of education expertise” can be considered more accurate term than “education export” to describe phenomenon the group was trying to grasp. However, the group decided to use the term “education export”, because it has been used in English-speaking countries. The group, however, pointed out that the education export must be understood in the broad sense meaning all education related exports. (Education export strategy 2009, 7)

Since 2010 “education export” is used as an official term in administrative language (see e.g. International education markets and Finland 2013). However, there is still lack of precise definition of “education export” and systematic use of that definition among education exporters and the Future Learning Finland. In one hand matters not fitting into definition called “education export” are counted among education export. In other hand it is not explicated sufficiently enough what “education export” could mean as products, services and solution.

“Education export” implicates to commercial activities meaning that nature of “export of education expertise” is profit-oriented. Currently projects not being commercial ones are reported under “education export”. So, statistics on volume and structure of education export are not reliable. Secondly, imprecise term e.g. allows higher education institutions to report international academic activities under “education export” discouraging to commercialize education expertise, and to create business models for education export, which are preconditions of expanding and professionalization of the business (Juntunen 2010, 3)

Business areas and business models

Listings of business areas of the Finnish education export provide responses to question: What does “education export” means as products, services and solutions. “Thoughts on Education export” blog on 3rd of November 2013 provides a list of the most important business areas to Finland in terms of business potential. The top 10 areas on the list were following:

  1. Operating schools, colleges and universities abroad
  2. Strategic partnerships with foreign operators so that role of Finnish party consist of expert services, products and solutions improving quality, effectiveness or any added value valuable to operator or authorities
  3. Localization of relevant parts of Finnish system and practices to solutions for local needs so that Finnish education exports get a significant pilot
  4. Degree business by utilizing all possible modes of service mobility, and using earning logics which are not only based on the commissioned education model (in Finnish: tilauskoulutusmallille)
  5. Scalable further education for public sector by using multi-mode learning methods including virtual learning
  6. Learning games (e.g. Rovio’s products)
  7. Virtual learning environments, such us products of Tribelearning
  8. Products for learning (such as Sanako’s products for language learning and Teklab’s labs for engineering education)
  9. Education system reforms funded by donors of international development or authorities of developed countries
  10. Content for education and training including new types of learning materials

Classification of business areas would improve quality of the debate on education export. It is useful for all members of the national education export cluster Future Learning Finland from policy makers to business actors in process of finding focus for actions. In other words, classification supports all levels of Future Learning Finland cluster to find focus for the education export business, and to identify actions needed to be carried out for improving likeliness that by 2015 education export constitutes a significant new export sector in Finland.

How to increase volume of education export significantly in short term? This question is linked with the business area listing above and assessment of potential business volume of each area. Easing terms of conditions to charge tuition fees is one action needed to be done e.g. along with suggestions of Dr. Päivi Lipponen’s group. Without easing money making with degrees achieving goals of the Education Export Strategy is unrealistic. Besides, increasing number of contracts on operating schools or being strategic partner for schools operators abroad are needed. To avoid limitations of low number high-caliber specialist with sufficient language and communication skills, the Finnish education export also have to increase sale of technology product and solutions for learning as well as sale of educational content. Being competitive in consultancy service provision based education system development business is challenging. However, contracts on large-scale system development projects are still definitely needed in order to achieving the national goals. (see above mentioned blog)

Classification of business areas, what does “education export” means in our case, also constitutes a starting point for designing new business models for education export. Significance of business models as competition factors has been increased as result of development of information technologies, internationalization and changes in business network. “Companies operate more and more in partnership networks, offering joint value propositions, build multi-channel and jointly owned channel networks, and apply different earning logics. Competitions between companies take place with increasing significance between business models instead of single products and services. (Pulkkinen et al., 2010, 8 – 9).

Business Model Canvas, originally presented by Osterwalder and Pigneur (2010) is these days a widely used tool for designing, developing and presenting a potential business concept. The Canvas model is applicable in the context of education export and it consists of the following nine blocks supporting business designing:

Being competitive in global education market presupposes competitive business model, and members of FLF, for sure, must pay more attention to business model development. Canvas provides one tested framework for doing it, and business areas classification support process of finding content for business model.

The business model Canvas also provides a framework for analyzing weaknesses of current situation. A list of some top weaknesses of the Finnish education export, state of affairs hindering the Finnish education exporters to be more competitive in global markets, is the following:

  • Value proposition: Finns are not good at selling value and telling-stories
  • Customer: authorities are the main customer segment of the most of education exporters, but understanding of value of services for a chosen customer segment is weak
  • Customer relationships: customer management is relying too much on home-office-based efforts instead of managing relationships through locally employed agent, local partner or direct investment
  • Channels: virtual mobility of services and provision of services via units abroad should be considerably enforced as modes of service delivery
  • Revenues: earning logic is too much based on invoicing expert’s input
  • Activities and resources: due to a short history of the Finnish education export professionalism level of education exporters is not high enough
  • Costs: total expert costs are high, and means of reducing costs are not in use
  • Partners: education exporter’s capacity to orchestrate their business network in the global market in customer cases so that they are reliable service provider with competitive price is weak.

It really matters, what does “education export” means in the public debate, in discussions between education exporters and in talks within exporters. The lack of definite and generally agreed concepts limits the opportunities to design and expand education export business and hinders the allocation of the public resources on the most promising business areas.


Timo Juntunen, Director of Global Education Services, JAMK University of Applied Sciences,

Auvinen, A-M, Juntunen, T. & Poikonen, J. (2010). Koulutusviennin käsikirja. Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö.

General Agreement on trade in services (1994). Available on the World Trade Organization Website (Cited 22.9. 2014)

Education New Zealand & Ministry of Education (2008). The Economic Impact of Export Education.

Juntunen, T. (2010). Selvitys suomalaisen koulutusosaamisen viennistä – Ajatuksia viennin edistämisestä perustuen ”Future Learning Finland” – verkoston kokemuksiin. Selvitys on tehty Finprolle ja se on julkaistu OKM:n sivuilla. (Cited 22.9.2014)

Juntunen, T. (2013) “Thoughts on Education export” blog on 3rd November. (Cited 22.9.2014)

Ministry of Education and Culture (2010). Finnish education export strategy: summary of the strategic lines and measures. Based on the Decision-in-Principle by the Government of Finland on April 24, 2010. (Cited 22.9.2014)

Ministry of Education and Culture (2013). International education markets and Finland. Reports of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland 2013:9. (Cited 22.9.2014)

Möller, K., Rajala, A. & Svahn, S. (2009). Tulevaisuutena liiketoimintaverkot. Johtaminen ja arvonluonti. Teknologiateollisuus.

Osterwalder, A. & Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business Model Generation. Wiley.

Pulkkinen, M & Rajahonka, M & Siuruainen, R & Tinnilä; M & Wendelin, R. (2005) Liiketoimintamallit arvon luojina -ketjut, pajat ja verkot. Teknologiateollisuus ry.

North South Co-operation of Lahti aims to turn African waste to value

Long-term North-South partnership between Lahti and Rustenburg has expanded over the years

City of Lahti has been part of the North South Local Government Co-operation program since 2002. The program is coordinated by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities and funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Through the program, Lahti and its African partner municipalities have received funding for development activities in the field of environmental administration. The co-operation is based on colleague-to-colleague interaction and mutual learning. Best practices are shared through peer reviews, trainings, exchange visits and benchmarking while research pilots and studies are conducted to find new solutions for identified challenges. From September 2014 onwards, the co-operation is being coordinated from Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Lahti has currently local government partners in South Africa and Ghana. In South Africa, Lahti is co-operating with Rustenburg and Madibeng Local Municipalities that are situated approximately 100 kilometers from Johannesburg in North West Province. The area known as a hub of tourism and mining industry, especially platinum mining. In Ghana, Lahti has partnered with the capital of Volta Region, Ho Municipality. The economy of Ho is highly dependent on small-scale agriculture.

Finding the niches for Finnish environmental technology solutions in the African markets

In 2013–2014, the co-operation between Lahti, Rustenburg, Madibeng and Ho has focused on the development of municipal solid waste management and sanitation coverage. Through the support of the co-operation, South African partners have piloted source separation operations and capacitated community-based groups to start recycling and material recovery ventures. In Ghana, feasibility of dry toilet technology and composting have been studied in course of school and community pilots.

For Lahti University of Applied Sciences (LUAS), the project provides valuable insight and contacts to the progressing African environmental technology markets. Understanding the stakeholders, challenges, needs and priorities of the South African and Ghanaian waste and water sectors makes it possible to evaluate the potential of Finnish environmental technology solutions for these markets. The environmental engineering degree program of LUAS has been involved in the planning and implementation of research pilots of the co-operation, e.g. through course works, final theses and student work placement. This R&D approach will be strengthened from 2015 when LUAS is coordinating the co-operation in Lahti.

International experience for students through work and studies in Africa

Annually 2–6 environmental engineering students have been given the opportunity to work in the environmental administration of the African partner municipalities for 3 months. The work placements have supported the implementation and documentation of the research pilots. In Ghana, students have taken part in the activities of the dry toilet pilot, such as organizing the training events for users and builders of dry toilets as well as monitoring the field trials of end products. In South Africa, for example the design of a public waste education center and waste sorting center have been supported with student work placement.

Work placement in Africa is a valuable opportunity to improve language, networking and project management skills. Students get exposed to the whole cycle of project management while taking part in the planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring, reporting and evaluation of the activities. Successful implementation of activities requires collaboration with multiple stakeholders. For example, when organizing field trials with urine fertilizer, it is necessary to coordinate the activities between the environmental health officials, agricultural extension officials, local researchers, farmers and dry toilet owners. A part from technical know-how, the work placement offers a good opportunity to develop presentation, negotiation and management skills.

Through the local government co-operation, Lahti University of Applied Sciences has also created network in the field of higher education to South Africa. This interaction has been extended to other countries in Southern Africa. In 2013-2015, LAMK is coordinating a North-South-South Higher Education project, Fanhees 3, with partners from North-West University (South Africa), University of Botswana (Botswana), Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Polytechnic of Namibia (Namibia), HAMK University of Applied Sciences. This project supports teacher and student mobility and enables few environmental engineering students from Lahti to take part in student exchange annually.

Picture 1. In Rustenburg, South Africa, a two-bag source separation system for solid waste was piloted for households in 2011. Sanna Siri was monitoring the two-bag collection on field.
Picture 2. In 2009, Marianne Siri and Sirpa Kokkinen did their work placement in the biological remediation program of the Hartbeespoort dam in Madibeng. The Harties Metsi a Me -program has been influenced by the remediation approach used in Lake Vesijärvi, Lahti.
Picture 3. Schools and communities in Ho, Ghana, have been trained to treat their biodegradable waste by composting. Mirkku Kauhanen together with Juuso Mäkelä were working closely with schools in 2012 to include composting into the science studies in primary and junior high school level.
Picture 4. Organizing training events has been one key task of the work placement students. In 2012, Joni Lappi and Markku Viitanen organized a workshop on the use of the dry toilet end products.


Anna Aalto, Project Manager, Lahti University of Applied Sciences,

SAMK having co-operation on land and sea in Namibia

Close relations of Finland and Namibia over a hundred years

Finland has a great reputation in Namibia, as missionary workers worked with the local people on technological and education issues as early as in beginning of 1900’s. Nobel Prize winner, our former president Martti Ahtisaari was the key negotiator during the Namibia’s independence process. With the mutual understanding and thrust between the countries, it’s easy to build up new projects and co-operation on educational and research.

The co-operation between Rauma, Finland and Namibia started with the building of a new multidisciplinary highly technical research vessel, with modern research capabilities for marine and fisheries research of Namibia by STX Finland Ltd (STX-Fi) from August 2011 to June 2012. This modern and innovative vessel is specially designed for the purposes of Namibian fisheries research.

Improving the maritime education on Namibia (Maribia)

The main aim of “Improving the maritime education on Namibia (Maribia)”-project is to improve the maritime education of Namibia on the higher educational level of Namibia and on the level that can be approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The project is in line with the objectives of Finland’s Development Policy Programme. It supports the maritime cluster of Namibia by promoting the rise and preservation of sustainable jobs in the maritime field. This MARIBIA-project will last to the end of year 2015.

Figure 1. Minna Keinänen-Toivola and Heikki Koivisto (in figure) visited at R/V Mirabilis in Walvis Bay in September 2014. Our guide was Chief Officer Werner Hamwaalwa. Picture taken by Minna Keinänen-Toivola.

Water project for Horizon2020

Namibia is a large country at over 800 000 km2, with low population number (2.3 million inhabitants) being the driest country south of Sahara desert (Figure 2). Actually, there is more seals 2.7 million than human being in Namibia. The key economic sectors are mining, fishing, tourism and agriculture (most important fish and marine products). All of these sectors depend on a sustainable water supply and sanitation in varying degrees. However, as an example Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, has an average annual rainfall of around 370 mm, while the average evaporation rate is over 3000 mm per annum. The nearest perennial river, the Okavango, is 700 km from the city on the north-eastern border of the country (border with Angola). Windhoek is therefore continuously facing serious water challenges.

In order to address the challenges of sustainable water systems in Namibia, we have put together a consortium of experts to work on these issues. Our proposed project, for Horizon2020, is focused on research, technological innovation, business opportunities, education, tools and methodologies for clean and hygiene water supply and sanitation (including raw water, drinking water, waste water, sea water) in Namibia. An important aspect is the energy, as all parts of operation of water systems need energy for successful operation. Our approach combines innovative technical solutions to local knowledge, operational and effective application of integrated water management in connection to local operators, including policy institutions and implementation bodies. As a practical tool, we have to urban areas as pilot sites: Windhoek, the capital and Walvis Bay municipality (Figure 3). RV Mirabilis is considered as a research vessel for sea water sampling (Figure 1).

Figure 2. Namibia is continuously facing serious water challenges as it’s an arid country. Picture taken by Heikki Koivisto.
Figure 3. Walvis Bay is another pilot site for the water project under preparation to Horizon2020 funding. It’s also the home harbor of RV Mirabilis. Picture taken by Minna Keinänen-Toivola.

Presence is needed on site

However, it should be kept in mind that the way of doing business varies from country to country. For example, in Namibia, the presence on site is very important. Maritime project personnel, as project manager Marva and captain, maritime expert Koivisto with the co-workers have visited Namibia several times since 2012. Project manager Keinänen-Toivola is able to prepare the water project for Horizon2020 on site in Namibia with Kolmiloikalla vaihtovirtaa-project (Figure 4).

Kolmiloikalla vaihtovirtaa- project, a key for successful co-operation

Kolmiloikalla vaihtovirtaa is a mutual project of Satakunta University of Applied Sciences and Turku University of Applied Sciences, funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The project is a part of the CoastAL cooperation between Satakunta University of Applied Sciences and Turku University of Applied Sciences ( It offers the staff of universities of applied sciences the chance to cooperate with their working life partners in an intensive and long-term manner. The Kolmiloikalla vaihtovirtaa project offers two working life exchange options of about three months for the years 2014–2015: Domestic working life exchange and International exchange. The destinations of domestic exchange can be research and development units of companies or sector research facilities. When it comes to international exchange, the RDI units of our strategic international partners or their regional cooperation organizations are recommended as destinations.

Figure 4. First advisory board committee meeting of MARIWATER project at Polytechnic of Namibia in August 2014. Project manager Minna Keinänen-Toivola (third on the right) presented SAMK. Picture taken by Heikki Koivisto.


Minna Keinänen-Toivola, Project Manager, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences/ Faculty of Energy and Construction/ WANDER Nordic Water and Materials Institute,

Heikki Koivisto, Project Manager, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences/ Faculty of Logistics and Maritime Technology,

Meri-Maija Marva, Training Manager, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences/ Faculty of Logistics and Maritime Technology,

Martti Latva, Chief Project Manager, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences/ Faculty of Energy and Construction/ WANDER Nordic Water and Materials Institute,

PRACTICE FUTURE – Creating an Open Innovation Business and Students Network

A substantial number of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), in the Barents region, with the intension of expanding are restrained by limited resources for international marketing and research into innovative business models, products and services. For some of them, an open innovation approach in a pre-defined network and, with minimised risk and costs might be a solution to overcome this hindrance. On the other hand, dwindling population of rural areas is a major hurdle for the development of the region, as well as the lack of a cross-border and cross-culture competent workforce. The need for strengthening entrepreneurship as a main power in regional development points to the problem of an underdeveloped entrepreneurship education. Therefore, beyond small local firms in the region, target groups are entrepreneurship students at partner universities as well as academic and administrative staff, and local intermediaries such as municipalities and business associations. Final beneficiaries are future entrepreneurs in the region who can use the business–university open innovation network; local communities profiting from internationally active local business and municipality partnerships; future entrepreneurship students, using a developed international learning and developing environment; academic staff and programme designers, building future efforts on an approved tool of entrepreneurship education.

Objectives and partners

A Kolarctic financed project Practice Future is an open innovation for local business and students’ network in the Barents Region. The idea for the project originated from the negotiations between higher education institutions (HEI) partners from Norway, Finland and Russia who were already involved in an enterprise project. The project partners are:

  • Small local enterprises in Finnmark County; Murmansk oblast, Lapland, and Karelia
  • Business associations related to the firms and local municipalities
  • HEI partners: The Arctic University of Norway – UiT, Murmansk International Institute of Business Education, Murmansk State Technical University, Petrozavodsk State University, Lapland University of Applied Sciences.

A pilot project in 2011conducted for a small enterprise in Finnmark County, Norway revealed the potential of Practice Future for firms. The outcome of the pilot project was immensely promising as the commissioner got to pursue one of the proposals presented by students. Using another cross-border channel opened by the student network, first steps of valuable cooperation with a Russian partner has already been realised. SMEs in the Barents Region and, students and faculty staff from five universities cooperate in the open innovation project to meet the two-fold aim: firstly to develop practically relevant business ideas and business models for commissioner enterprises and facilitating the enterprises’ access to markets abroad; secondly to develop and implement a practice proven internationally applicable tool of entrepreneurship education to (non-business) students.

International projects are tools in creating cooperation between partners and a school project such as Practice Future do provide such a platform. The collaboration between the partner HEIs not only provide an opportunity for students to be involved in dealing with issues related to “real” enterprises but also to those enterprises to widen dimensions in possible future expansion of their businesses. This is a right platform for students to be innovative and creative with their business ideas. Further the staff in charge also has a chance to discuss and exchange ideas on issues ranging from coaching students and future plans. According to Yle News publication, a Finnish online media, Finland churns out about 15,000 new inventions each year (Problem-solving Finns… 2014). This enormous figure is only made be possible with an enabling and innovating society that believes in innovation as the bedrock of sustainable human development. Lapland UAS being a partner in this project finds this arena an opportunity for its students to showcase their innovative talents on an international platform. Based on the feedback from business students of Lapland UAS, this project is “beneficial” in their studies.

Thus far there has been four semesters of workshops that has been implemented and during each phase on average nine students from Lapland UAS has participated. The students involved are both Finns and non-Finns. Being part of this project the students not only gain insights into real enterprises’ day to day dealing but also acquire cross-border and cross-cultural skills since the partner HEIs and commissioners originate from three different countries. High North being a strategic region of Lapland UAS, this project serves the strategic vision perfectly. Students and staff from Russia, Finland and Norway collaborate to tackle regional enterprises’ assignments. It is not a farfetched aspiration to believe that an innovation hub could be created through such collaboration. A hub for multidisciplinary teams of various cultural and economic backgrounds joins forces in creating synergy for innovative output. Such international collaboration and networking could be tapped to acquire maximum gain for the regional enterprises and organizations. Such an evolving and productive network nurtures a platform where Russian, Finnish and Norwegian knowledge and competences are exchanged fluidly across national borders. Such exchanges also foster and support entrepreneurship education in partner HEIs and entrepreneurial activities in regional enterprises.

Semester based activities

Each semester, international student-teams work together on a virtual platform dealing with tasks assigned by regional enterprises or municipalities. After the online period teams and representatives of enterprises and/or organisations meet each other for a week-long Business Innovation Workshop, where business proposals and plans are completed and presented to the commissioners. The Business Innovation Workshop each semester also incorporate representatives of local business associations and municipalities and serve as a platform for evaluating and successive advancement of the entrepreneurship education tool, cost-benefit optimization for participating firms and development conference of cooperation between municipalities and higher education. Each partner HEI is given the opportunity to a workshop week at its own premises.

The workshop circle began in Alta, Norway at the commencement of the project in the autumn of 2012. During this phase the enterprises involved were Sorrisniva, a tourism enterprise from Alta and Arts from Barents, an online art enterprise from Murmansk, Russia. This was followed by the Murmansk workshop phase in spring 2013 student-teams dealt with assignments related to a youth house, Mr. Pink from Murmansk, Russia and EU Park commissioned by Tornio City, Finland. The following workshop phase in Petrozavodsk, Russia the student-teams had to deal with a couple of challenging assignments: Kirkenes Port case from Norway and a shipbuilding enterprise from the host city, Varyag. Lapland UAS had the pleasure to host the workshop in week in Tornio during 17.-21.3.2014 during which saw student-teams delivering solutions to two case-assignments commissioned by jointly Outokumpu Stainless and Tornio City, and Kvalsund Commune from Norway. The workshops strengthen the relationships between HEIs and relevant regional businesses and enhance the sustainable knowledge and competence exchanges among the relevant parties involved. With such collaboration it is possible to build individual cross-border network that could possibly retain youth in the region.

When students from different countries meet during the workshop weeks and compete to propose best solutions for commissioners’ tasks, the environment fosters communicative, creative, entrepreneurial skills along with cross-cultural competences that are indispensable for international business professionals who need to communicate in a persuasive and compelling way. This could be illustrated by using the latest workshop week held in Tornio. Student-teams worked on the Tornio Port case, co-commissioned by Outokumpu Stainless which rents the port and Tornio City which is the “landlord”, where they had to find ways to improve the attractiveness of the port for other customers than the current tenant. A panel of jury, consisting of the commissioners themselves, the RDI director and the director of Scholl of Business and Culture of Lapland UAS, and the chair of Tornio City Council, heard various ideas and solutions being proposed. They ultimately selected as best ideas based on cost efficiency and feasibility scale. The winning proposals will be reviewed by the commissioners for possible future implementations. Generally the Tornio workshop was a success based on the feedback received from the participants

The Practice Future project still has two phases ahead to be held in Alta and Murmansk. Thus far close to hundred and fifty students and twelve teaching staff has been involved. The student numbers are expected to increase with the upcoming workshops. Without doubt such a project, besides being an entrepreneurial arena, nourishes a fertile ground for intercultural interactions, creation of friendship and networking. The students get more out of each semester then just functioning as entrepreneurs. Each semester involves an intensive sessions of brain storming, frustration, collaborations and results.


Peter Fischer, Assistant professor, The Arctic University of Norway,

Teresa Chen, Senior lecturer, International Coordinator, Lapland University of Applied Sciences,

Problem-solving Finns create 15,000 new inventions each year (2014). Yle news. Updated 16.2.2014. In address:

Bridging the Skills Gap – Competency Development and Entrepreneurship Coaching with ’Xing’

At Arcada University of Applied Sciences (UAS) Helsinki – Finland, the Skills2Work project was implemented in 2010 in response to the challenge set by ET 2020 (European Commission – Education & Training, 2014) drawn up in 2009. One of the long-term strategic objectives is ”Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training” (European Commission – Education and Training, 2011, Ch. 4). The ongoing Skills2Work project aims to transfer the competency-based learning outcomes of degree programmes into employability skills by operable, sustainable and innovative pedagogical solutions that build on and develop existing curriculum structures.


Generic or transversal skills are in focus at both national and global levels. The OECD’s ongoing AHELO feasibility study on tuning and performance of education (OECD Higher Education, n.d.; AHELO, 2010-11Tremblay et al., 2012) identifies three strands, one being generic competences in which Finland is a participating country. At the Finnish level, competency frameworks have been addressed in the final report – Oivallus (Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, 2011), which builds on the earlier definitions drawn up in 2006 by the Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (ARENE, 2006). In addition, the adaptability and transferability of skills according to the T-model mean “producing individuals with the right mix of skills” according to recommendations from the New Skills Network (New Skills Network, 2012a).

Skills2Work implementation

The project objectives are to: 1) design a skills mapping and tracking tool, 2) identify a training intervention to develop generic or transversal skills and entrepreneurship in particular, and 3) develop a Personal Development Framework (PDF) for pedagogical and coaching support throughout the study process. The project aims to extend the learning experience, thus complementing the curriculum by bridging the skills gap (New Skills Network, 2012b).

Training intervention using ‘Xing’

’Xing’ (Working Knowledge, n.d) was identified as a best-practice training intervention and introduced to teachers as well as piloted with students in three different degree programmes. In the UK, Xing has been used by around 70 higher education institutions in co-operation with employers in inter-university student enterprise competitions, called Flux events (Working Knowledge, n.d.). Arcada UAS is the only HEI outside the UK accredited and licensed by Working Knowledge to use Xing. Xing is a visual planning tool based on teamwork and active learning to train generic skills and especially entrepreneurship, which engages students in planning a strategy for a business idea through an interactive learning method.

Students from different disciplines work with Xing in small groups. Beginning with a business scenario, their task is to define a quantifiable goal with a time frame and strategy to reach that goal. Xing uses example scenarios based on real businesses, but these companies also set students the challenge to work with their own areas. Additionally, Xing can be used to help crystallise students’ own business ideas to ‘tease out’ business start-up strategies, i.e. without a scenario or case study.

Simply put, Xing consists of a planning board and strategy cards representing about 100 business decisions divided into different categories (e.g. Action, Finance, Marketing, Personnel and Strategy). The students work in groups of six and use the cards as decision prompts, which they discuss and select to form their visual business plan by placing the cards on the planning board so that their strategy gradually takes shape.

The Xing process consists of 9 steps in all which together cover the development of a strategy from idea to goal as well as, for example, an exit. One session may even take some days but can just as well be conducted in 5-6 hours. The session is led by teachers who can challenge the groups by asking students to motivate their choices, or by giving students special challenge cards, and in this way they can check the strategy’s logic and time-frame. The session finishes when the groups are ready to pitch their business ideas before a panel of experts.

The process stimulates students into quickly grasping new concepts, decision-making and teamwork, and draws benefit from the diversity of group members’ with different skills. Xing simulates decision-making very explicitly, as no alternative strategies are allowed on the Xing board. Instead, the group must plan, decide on, and implement but one strategy. This incorporates both instrumentalist and risk-taking aspects of microeconomics: If you cannot make necessary decisions to implement your strategy, and commit to managing the risks involved, then how realizable is the strategy? This offers a more personal and hands-on experience than, say, case studies or project assignments, as neither the strategy nor the specific issues to be addressed are static or given, but rather constructed dynamically by the group during the Xing process.

Innovative pedagogical approach

Entrepreneurship training sessions using Xing have so far been successfully implemented within the existing curriculum structures of degree programmes at Arcada UAS with about 400 students. Experience has shown that students’ engagement grows as their business plan takes shape, and their business logic is challenged by the session facilitator. The fact that even friendly classroom competition between the groups constitutes a team-building factor can be clearly seen, and the process encourages social interaction between the group’s participants. Students are also empowered by the fact that a group with members possessing different characteristics is usually more prone to success.

Feedback from students has been very positive, and in such cases where the students have been restricted to one day (or prolonged afternoon) of Xing, there have been clear indications of interest for longer sessions, and even among first-year students. This shows that Xing provides enough depth to sustain prolonged interest and engagement. Students are motivated by working together in a dynamic learning environment to apply what they have learned in lectures. The competitive spirit also helps promote team-building skills, and active participation of each member regardless of their level of business knowledge is encouraged. Whilst Xing is not a game as such, research into board-game playing suggests (Hull et al. 2009) that the perceived objective of games is described more in terms of mechanics than a narrative after the gaming experience. Thus, it follows that the mechanics Xing is based on appeals to the competitive spirit of participants, which is reminiscent of the more traditional approach of board games, yet the process accentuates elements of the strategic decision-making processes of business – through human interaction.

Xing is ’tactile’ as opposed to a computer game – a deliberate choice on the part of the designer – which engages students in an interactive process that transforms the traditional classroom into a dynamic, flexible learning environment, or ‘place for space’ (Wikström-Grotell et al., 2013). From a pedagogical point of view, Xing fosters active learning where the teacher becomes a facilitator, and the learning space opens up new possibilities to gain confidence, explore new ideas, exchange knowledge and experience, and create new solutions, where both teachers and students are mutually engaged in the creative process. Moreover, learning encounters like these also promote integration and team-teaching since the process over-arches specific subject learning. Xing sessions support the attainment of competency-based learning outcomes but also develop skill clusters along with transversal skills and their practical application. Furthermore, debriefing and post-session reflection can be a valuable part of entrepreneurship coaching and skills development for students in a holistic learning experience.


Complementing teaching with Xing sessions promotes those skills that students, especially future entrepreneurs, ought to be equipped with, and creates possibilities to co-operate more closely with companies. Trends within higher education indicate an increased need for graduates with entrepreneurship skills. Xing spurs creativity, innovative thinking and entrepreneurship by providing creative freedom, yet it is governed by real structures and business frameworks. Moreover, as a learning process, not only are entrepreneurship skills trained but other skill clusters that promote the development of transversal skills, e.g. language, communication, team working. The training intervention develops students’ employability skills and is based on an innovative pedagogical approach that involves students in a stimulating learning environment, i.e., active and contextual learning, which can foster links with the labour market if employers are engaged in the training process too. This approach to bridging the skills gap also encourages dialogue with enterprises and organisations, reinforces links between HEIs and the labour market, as well as provides a way to keep students’ skills updated.


Nigel Kimberley, Lecturer, M.Ed., Arcada University of Applied Sciences,

Michael von Boguslawski, Research Advisor, Ph.D., Arcada University of Applied Sciences,

AHELO (2010-11) Assessment of higher education learning outcomes [Electronic version]. Accessed 16 October 2013 at

ARENE (2006). Generic competences of polytechnic graduates. ARENE, 2006. [Electronic version]. Accessed 6 September 2013 at

Confederation of Finnish Industries EK (2011). Oivallus Final Report. [Electronic version]. Accessed  9 September 2013 at

European Commission – Education and Training (2011) Commission staff working document. Progress towards the common European objectives in education and training. Indicators and benchmarks 2010/2011. [Electronic version: NC3211741ENC_002-2.pdf ]. Accessed 8 May 2014 at

European Commission – Education and Training (2014). Strategic Framework – Education & Training 2020. Homepage. Accessed 8 May 2014 at

Hull, K., Kurniawan, S., & Wardrip-Fruin, N. (2009). “Better Game Studies Education the Carcassonne   Way.” Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory. Proceedings of DiGRA 2009

New Skills Network (2012a) Supporting the development of future skills: Recommendations from the New Skills Network [Electronic version]. Accessed  24 May 2013 at

New Skills Network (2012b) Report NSN Final Conference “Skills for the Future” 9-11 May 2012 Cophenhagen, Denmark. [Electronic version]. Accessed  24 May 2013 at

OECD Higher Education (n.d.) Homepage. Accessed  25 October 2013 at

Tremblay, K., Lalancette, D. & Roseveare, D. (2012). Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes, AHELO, Feasibility study report volume 1. Design and implementation. [Electronic version]. Accessed 16 October  2013 at

Wikström-Grotell, C.  Ståhl, T.  Silius-Ahonen, E. (2013). Arcada – A Place For Space. Journal of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences. No 1, 2013. [Electronic version]. Accessed  20 September 2013 at

Working Knowledge(n.d.) Homepage. Accessed  19 September 2013 at

Boat Racing with Solar Power: Midnight Sun KYAMK – Solar Boat Team

DSC and Solar1 are both very exceptional motor racing events there isn’t smell of gasoline, loud engines, pollution or waste of nature resources. Still it’s just as exciting! Teams of engineers and students around the world design and build race boats to be as fast as possible with very limited power. All the power used by the boat has to be produced with onboard solar panels. Efficiency is the key to success.

This is the fifth edition of DSC since 2006 and during this short history the boats have taken big steps in technology. Now most teams are sponsored by local and international companies and are able to demonstrate new technological innovations in each race. Today the boats are far from simple. To build a competitive racing boat requires expertize of several fields: boat design, hydrodynamics and -statics, electrics, mechanical, material and manufacturing engineering just to mention a few. Then there are all other aspects of the project: finding sponsors and partners, arranging the build, PR, travel, etc. It’s a complex task but extremely educating and rewarding with the climax of international competition – a great opportunity to benchmark your knowledge and share experience with other teams who just have gone through the same rumble.

Photo by Kyamk files

The Midnight Sun Kyamk solar boat team consists of students and staff of the Boat Technology degree. The Boat technology is a perfect match for the competition. Designing and building the race boat meets all the aspects of students’ curriculum. It’s a great opportunity to learn, develop and test in practice the skills required in modern boatbuilding. We are very excited about the project. All the students are involved in some way. The design, manufacturing and material testing courses are all integrated to the project. Unfinished boat was shown at Helsinki International Boat show as a part of one course – a great way to get publicity for the University, sponsors and the team. There is so much to do that it’s difficult to have all the ideas “sold” to different reference groups within the tight time frame of the project. There would be great opportunities to integrate student groups from: media, industrial design, project management, logistics, software etc. to the project. However within limited time and small group of people we can’t spend too much time in selling the idea. Every now and then we get some new people excited and joining the team. The team consists mainly of boat technology students but we have a couple of software students programming the Arduino controller and some logistic students looking for the travelling options. 2012 we had also design and media students helping with video footage of the trip. This year we will see, maybe we’ll have to make do with the multitalented boat technology students. Interested?

With this year’s boat we are going to take a huge technology leap from the 2012 boat. And this is not to put down the 2012 boat, it was a great boat, but we have now raised the bar by entering the Top-class. In the Top-class boats the rules allows manufacturing custom solar panels with 500W more power than in the B-class. With 1750W array of light weight solar panels it becomes possible (and necessary in order to be competitive) to use hydrofoils. Hydrofoils are like wings in water that are used to raise the complete hull of the boat off the water. When the boat is “flying” and only the hydrofoils and propeller are still in the water the friction is in minimum and it is possible to reach maximum speed with the limited power available. The boat should reach double the speed as the B-class boat did in 2012. According to simulations we should be able to reach more than 40km/h. Flying isn’t easy, our exceptional flight control utilizes Ultrasonic sensors and accelerometers to adjust servomotor driven control surfaces on the hydrofoils. Everything is well designed and simulated but still, at the time of writing this, just ten weeks to competition, everything is still to be proofed in the test drives that are starting soon.

The weight of the boat has to be kept in minimum. This means tight weight control in everything, all the components have to be selected as light weight as possible. The hull, solar panels, driveline, hydrofoils, seat, steering wheel, more or less everything we can, we build from carbon fiber composite materials. Designing and building the molds and parts consists of everything from grinding and wet lay-up to CNC manufacturing, vacuum infusion and pre-pregs. There is something to do for all the year classes of boat tech students.

We wouldn’t be able to build the boat without support from the sponsors. Most of the materials used in the boat are sponsored by the leading companies in composite industry. It’s not all begging though, we are co-operating with the companies by testing new materials getting user experience and producing video and photo material and so on. All the companies get also positive publicity during the project and races. Research, development and innovation is major part of the project as we are developing and testing new: electric driveline, propeller, hydrofoil control system, propeller and manufacturing methods. The co-operating companies will benefit from the results. Some of the components and our designs are used in our partner teams’ Midnights Sun Mamk B-class boat as well.

There are more than twenty companies supporting the project. The project gets funding also from the European Regional Development Fund.

We are confident that in very near future there will be increasing number of commercial solar boats in the market. Finland has possibility to be one of the leading countries in this development because of projects like this and new innovative engineers entering the boat industry with real life experience in international R&D&I.

We would like to invite you to follow us preparing to the race at:

You can find more info and follow the races online at: (broadcasted in Eurosport as well)

Photo by Kyamk files

Lavia – Green Longboards: How UASes can aid young startups to takeoff

It’s the first days of Sochi and a Finnish snowboarder Enni Rukajärvi has just won silver in women’s slope style. Immediately, a few month old picture of Enni holding a longboard i.e. longish skateboard mostly used by girls and young women, gets shared on one particular Facebook page.

World’s most beautiful longboards

Picture 1: Jaakko Kukkonen (left) and Tuomas Davidsson, picture by Jussi Ratilainen (2013)

The page belongs to Lavia – Green Longboards a small and very cool startup creating “world’s most beautiful longboards” as one Helsinki area fashion blogger stated. Besides of looking nice, these longboards also happen to be the most environmentally friendly out there. It started with natural fiber composite structure glued together with best on the market bio epoxies. Lavia’s two young entrepreneurs Jaakko Kukkonen and Tuomas Davidsson however, didn’t stop there. In the past 12 months they’ve e.g. experiment with methods to attach recycled fabrics in the boards making them really stand out from others out there.

It begins with an idea

Viewed from the perspective of universities of applied sciences, Lavia’s story is of particular interest. It exemplifies the many small ways how a university ecosystem can aid young and talented entrepreneurs in their journey.

In early 2012 Karelia UAS’s research and international relationship office had developed a practice of co-working with lecturers from different fields. In practice, lecturers and innovation specialists organized so called activation workshops fitted in with the normal lectures. After being introduced to various types of examples, students were then asked to think their own personal interests and skills and then write down their own ideas. Finally, at the end of the workshop, the visiting innovation specialist collected all the idea papers. And so it was with Jaakko, who then was a first year student in environmental technology engineering (though he later changed to media studies) and Tuomas who was just finishing his 3rd year in industrial design. On two different workshops, without any prior knowledge of each other, both of them wrote down an idea related to longboards – Jaakko with general interest and experience in longboard design, and Tuomas writing about possibility of doing natural fiber composite longboards. This shared interest was spotted by people at the RDI offices and the two guys were introduced and asked to discuss and see if they could join forces. Luckily, which is not often the case, Jaakko and Tuomas formed a team and started working on their idea.

Draft program

From Karelia’s perspective, second step came when Team Lavia applied for access to the Draft program, a then new initiative at Karelia with a mission to help teams with innovative projects. Jaakko and Tuomas were among the 12 teams selected and received a pledge to have various types development work related purchases made by Karelia (who in turn was receiving funds from Finnish foundation). As part of the program, regular workshops were organized, during which Team Lavia could learn and gain feedback from other teams doing projects of their own (

With first patch of materials received, Jaakko and Tuomas got access to Karelia’s wood and metal workshops at the Centre for Creative Industries. Wisely they started building their first prototypes and at the same time experimenting with ways to cut the production time of one board to minimum paving way for a viable business model.

Facebook visibility

Almost from day one, Lavia’s been using Facebook as their main form of web presence. Jaakko and Tuomas have openly shared images of their on-going development work and treated their “likers” with high appreciation. This paid of early on because national media spotted their efforts providing Jaakko and Tuomas free publicity. From Karelia’s perspective Lavia’s Facebook efforts have been a very positive thing. Firstly, any media visibility Lavia manages to gain is also good PR for the school. Secondly and most importantly, Lavia became a perfect example for other students encouraging them to pursue their dreams. When Jaakko and Tuomas shared pictures of their very first prototypes, it considerably lowers the threshold of entrepreneurship in the minds of others. As opposed to situation where only the stories of the big and successful get shared.

Integration to studies

Yet another way, how Lavia has been collaborating with the school, has been the way how Tuomas and Jaakko have been able to integrate Lavia in to their studies. Prime example was the thesis focusing on Lavia made by Tuomas, who graduated in spring 2013 (Davidsson, 2013). Also, other students not part of the Lavia core team, have been eager to do smaller study related projects, internships and lately theses, too. This is of course more than ok for Karelia, since Lavia offers a more multi-faceted learning opportunity as compared to a more established company, who typically give students narrower tasks.

As Lavia’s journey continues, their integration in to the local startup ecosystem has been deepening. Recently, Jaakko and Tuomas pitched for angel funding at local event organized by a local business incubator. This is all good and well for Karelia, as the school can take genuine credit for being able do its part in helping young teams to pursue their dreams.


Heikki Immonen, Innovation coordinator, Karelia University of Applied Sciences,

Rukajärvi takes slopestyle silver,, viewed 14.2.2014

Picture of Enni Rukajärvi,, viewed 14.2.2014

Lavia – Green Longboards,, viewed 14.2.2014

Maailman kaunein lonkkari: Lavia Green Longboards,, viewed 14.2.2014

Draft program for teams,, viewed at 14.2.2014

Syksyllä 2012 Draft-ohjelmaan valitut tiimit,, viewed 14.2.2014

Picture of a prototype,, viewed 14.2.2014

Davidsson, Tuomas, 2013, Lavia Green Longboards –tuotekehitysprojekti,, viewed 14.2.2014

FUAS Research Review – An evaluation of research, development and innovation activities at FUAS institutions


The need to evaluate research, development and innovation (RDI) activities in universities of applied sciences has been highlighted in numerous different documents (e.g. Ministry of Education and Culture 2012; Ministry of Education & the Ministry of Employment and the Economy 2009; Academy of Finland 2009). In addition to the sector-wide analysis of RDI activities at Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (Maassen et al. 2012), a number of individual UASs have conducted their individual evaluations of RDI activities, but FUAS-level RDI analysis was lacking.

FUAS Research Review was an evaluation of the RDI activities of FUAS Federation and its individual member UASs (HAMK University of Applied Sciences, Lahti University of Applied Sciences and Laurea University of Applied Sciences). It was performed in order to get a clear and realistic picture of the research, development and innovation activities of FUAS through assessing the RDI activities of each member institute to contextualise FUAS globally and to stimulate impulses for future development at FUAS.

The evaluation looked into RDI activities from the perspective of the four focus areas of FUAS (Ensuring welfare, Technological competence and entrepreneurship, Societal security and integrity, and Environment and energy efficiency). In addition to observing the focus areas, FUAS Research Review produced and assessed information concerning the role of RDI activities at FUAS, the relation of RDI activities and education, the international aspects of the RDI activities as well as the profitability, quality and influence of the RDI activities. Furthermore, the FUAS Research Review provided information for the development of the FUAS quality system and for the forthcoming audit of the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (FINHEEC).

FUAS Research Review Process

The review included a self-evaluation and audit by an international external Audit Board. The self-evaluation was divided into three main parts. First it concentrated on RDI in the FUAS strategy 2011–2015 and FUAS focus areas. Second, it focused on the RDI culture at FUAS and implementation of FUAS strategy by analysing FUAS RDI structures and resources, RDI practices, RDI integration into education, innovations and entrepreneurship as well as the regional influence of FUAS RDI activities. Furthermore, wide range of RDI projects were presented in order to gain better understanding of the forms, possibilities and problems of RDI at FUAS. Third, a SWOT analysis was used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of FUAS RDI.

The Audit Board consisted of two international evaluators and one Finnish evaluator. The external evaluation was based on interviews with a board range of individuals from the FUAS UASs and stakeholders, and on written documents.


According to the FUAS strategy, FUAS fortifies international practical RDI, which also generates new, internationally competitive content for education. FUAS is an engine for applied research, pragmatic innovation and RDI integrated into student-oriented education. Its RDI emphasises integrated application, transfer into practice, utilisation and commercialisation of technological and social innovations.

The strategic policies for FUAS RDI are decided by the Rectors Collegium and executed by the FUAS RD&I steering group in cooperation with the RDI development manager. In 2012, the RDI volume was approximately € 23 million (including € 13 million project budgets) which accounted for around 16% of the total RDI volume in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences.

Integration of RDI into education is one of the key strategic objectives of FUAS. The used pedagogical RDI-integrated solutions, methods and environments strengthen a creativity-based and problem-oriented student-centred culture. In 2012, over 26% of all credits carried out at FUAS institutions were R&D credits and almost 85% of thesis was commissioned by external organisations.

The most important joint RDI actions fostering innovation and entrepreneurship within FUAS are the Tuoteväylä programme, SENSE Business Idea Competition, Cambridge VentureCamp, and Innovation Express. In 2012, Tuoteväylä fungind was € 250,000 and other funding for innovations and entrepreneurial activities approximately €220,000 at FUAS. There were 240 business ideas in total in which Tuoteväylä programme funded 25 business ideas and 6 start-ups. The number of innovation disclosures was 10 and the total number of student-driven start-ups 24.

Development of FUAS RDI is based on the continuous improvement cycle (plan, do check, act). The FUAS RDI activities are implemented based on the FUAS Strategy. RDI action plan is drawn up and evaluated annually by RD&I steering group and the Rectors Colloquium based on RDI-related strategic indicators, Ministry of Education and Culture agreement indicators, and operational feedback procedures. In the future, the research review will be conducted once a strategy period.

Table 1. Summary of the current state of the RDI-related strategic indicators of FUAS.

International RDI income financing € 5,309.000
International RDI income financing 0.90 %
Nationally competed research funding € 1,422.000
Number of theses done in the wider Metropolitan area of total thesis 2,882
Share of theses done in the wider Metropolitan area of total thesis 80.7%
Share of foreign experts of total number of teaching and RDI staff 0.28%
Share of entrepreneurs compared to total number of graduates (in 2010) 3.67%

Based on the self-evaluation, FUAS has to invest in the development of RDI by increasing participation in FUAS RDI activities, committing all staff, students and stakeholders to the RDI activities, promoting the development of the RDI expertise of staff and students through common operating models, and building appropriate RDI services to support RDI activity required by strategy and the new funding model.

External evaluation

The development of FUAS and its RDI function was analysed against the backdrop of national higher education policy, European policy and international developments. To maintain or achieve a strong position, there seems to a choice for higher education institutes: either to specialise and be relatively small, or to merge and choose a clear set of priorities. The Audit Board stressed that the size does matter in some cases but not always. It is more important to make the right connection between people and groups, develop a common language, a common view and approach, and have the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements and local needs.

The Audit Board saw the idea of FUAS and its strategic ambitions as a good first step, as they offer the prospect of supporting the generation of larger groups, with critical mass to enter European projects on a regular basis, underpinned by a professional, efficient management serving the FUAS UASs. FUAS Federation will also help strengthen research capabilities while enhancing UASs’ international reputations and appeal to potential foreign research collaboration.

To succeed in this, the big challenge of FUAS is that the UASs remain separate entities who operate “on their own” instead of working on further organisation. It is also necessary that FUAS and its UASs further develop their collaborative links with public and private regional partners and enhance their RDI capacities to enable them to participate actively in international RDI activities. For this there are good opportunities, many regional organisations see FUAS and its UASs as reliable partners for the future. Good and clear communication is important for the successful development of RDI, both inside the institutes and towards the outside words.

As a conclusion of FUAS Research Review, the Audit Board defined two strategic choices for developing RDI:  1) RDI as an activity supporting teaching and 2) RDI as a self-determined function. These strategic choices lead to different challenges for university policy and suggest different goals for the management of RDI at FUAS level. The first approach does not require important changes in current RDI practices. In this choice the lack of reputation makes it difficult to access international funding resources and to improve UASs’ RDI performance and reputation. The second choice can take place by ensuring that the staff is up-to-date with the latest developments in their fields and maintains a hands-on knowledge of the shifting requirements and needs of research stakeholders and by supporting the development of research students working at graduate level.  In this choice, the critical mass of research, management capabilities and FUAS brand would be provided by an own legal entity, a FUAS Research Institute.

Future development

FUAS Research Review results were analysed carefully by the Rectors Collegium and the FUAS RD&I steering group. On a broader platform, the FUAS Research Review results have been discussed in the “Voice of FUAS” seminar for FUAS UASs’ staff. In addition, FUAS UASs have discussed the results in their internal meetings. At the moment, the establishment of FUAS Research Institute is not timely. FUAS continues by focusing on integration of RDI into learning. Based on the review results, the following development actions have been outlined for this year: 1) initiating new international RDI projects and increasing the total of external tendered RDI funding, and 2) strengthening the role of FUAS as an RDI regional development player.


Ulla Kotonen, Development Manager, DSc (Econ & Bus. Adm.), FUAS – Federation of Universities of Applied Sciences,

Academy of Finland. 2009. The State and Quality of Scientific Research in Finland 2009. Publication of the Academy of Finland 10/2009.

Kotonen, U. (ed.). 2013. Integrating RDI into Learning. An evaluation of research, development and innovation activities at FUAS institutions. Publication of Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Series C Articles, reports and other current publications, part 149.

Maassen, P, Kallioinen, O., Keränen, P., Penttinen, M., Spaapen, J.,  Wiedenhofer, R., Kajaste, M. & Mattila, J. 2012. From the bottom up. Evaluation of RDI activities of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences. Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council 7:2012. Tampere 2012.

Ministry of Education and Culture. 2012. Education and Research 2011 – 2016. A Development plan. Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland 2012:3. Department for Education and Science Policy.

Ministry of Education & the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. 2009. Evaluation of the Finnish National Innovation System. Full Report.

Learning of Institutional Quality Assurance System in Higher Education in Finland – Visit to FINHEEC and to Finnish higher education institutions in October 2013, Erasmus Programme

University of Applied sciences Velika Gorica is higher education institution which provides five undergraduate professional and three postgraduate specialist study programmes with curricula realized using advanced technologies, that are being constantly improved, renewed and allowing the students easier knowledge transfer so that when they enter the labour market they will have better opportunities of employment and getting ahead in their careers, i.e. existence in one of today’s modern organizations. The study programmes of the University of Applied Sciences Velika Gorica last for three years (six semesters) and they are harmonized with the Bologna Declaration and performed in compliance with the Act on Scientific Research and Higher Education. The curricula and programmes are harmonized with ECTS – the European Credit Transfer System, thus enabling the transfer of students from other professional or university study programmes to VVG and vice versa, all in compliance with the Act and Statute of the University of Applied Sciences. The curriculum and the structure of the programmes of the professional three-year study have been designed having in mind sustainability, competitiveness and further development, using the principles of optionality and substantial share of practical classes. Those programmes are:

  • Computer systems maintenance
  • Crisis management
  • Aircraft maintenance
  • Eye optics
  • Motor vehicle maintenance.

Also there are three specialist programmes:

  • Information systems
  • Crisis management
  • Logistic.

The objectives of our visit were learning of institutional quality assurance system in higher education in Finland and its development at different HEIs and in different countries. Besides learning of good practice at a Finnish HEIs it was good time for exchanging experiences with HAMK University of Applied Sciences, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Aalto University and its role in the system of Finnish higher education.

Main goals for the visit were:

  • How to improve internal audits of quality assurance system
  • How to achieve continues improvement of quality culture at a higher education institutions
  • How to simplifies procedures of internal audits
  • How to write good reports
  • Integration of ISO and ESG.
  • Revision of Quality policy, Strategy and etc.

The results of our visit were better understanding of all procedures and criteria implement by FINHEEC, better audit procedure of higher education institutions, easier implementation of quality policies and strategic goals in own institution, easier motivation of all stockholders at University of Applied Science Velika Gorica, improvement and motivation method for mobility, definition the influence of higher education institution on regional development and transfer of knowledge and relations with all stockholders.

In FINHEEC we present quality assurance system in higher education in Croatia and we particularly discuss the method of enhancement led evaluations, impact of external audits on the development of higher education institutions quality assurance systems. Also we try to find answers on some questions like: How to improve external audits of quality assurance system and how to develop the methods and write good reports?

At Laurea University of Applied Sciences we meat Mrs. Jaana Ignatius and we talked about the quality culture and good practices of quality procedures in Laurea. Also we shared experiences about developing of the shared quality management of federation of Universities of Applied Sciences- HAMK, Lahti and Laurea Universities of Applied Sciences.

Pic 1. Sanja Kalambura and Nives Jovičić with Mrs. Jaana Ignatius from Laurea University of Applied Sciences (center).

At the Aalto University we met Mr. Sakari Heikkilä, Mrs. Tuija Nikko (quality director) from School of Business and Prof. Olli Saarela from School of Engineering. It was open discussion about quality issues like strategy plans and systematic improvements true PDCA (plan, do, check, act) cycle.

Pic 2. Aalto University – From left Mr. Sakari Heikkilä with Nives Jovičić, Mrs. Tuija Nikko (quality director) from School of Business and Prof. Olli Saarela from School of Engineering.

At HAMK University of Applied Sciences we met Mrs. Mervi Friman and from HAMK student union Mr. Riku Kemppinen and Mrs. Tanja-Maria Hyppänen. The subject was quality culture and good practices of quality assurance procedures in HAMK. In the afternoon we attend professional teacher education lead by prof. Vesa Parkkonen.

Pic 3. HAMK University of Applied Sciences – From left Mrs. Tanja-Maria Hyppänen, Mrs. Mervi Friman, Mrs. Sanja Kalambura and Mr. Riku Kemppinen.

We like to thank all our hosts for very nice organisation and hospitality.


Sanja Kalambura, PhD., prof. Vice dean for quality, University of Applied Sciences Velika Gorica,

Nives Jovičić,, quality department, University of Applied Science Velika Gorica

Cooperation with Universities of Applied Science in Finland is one of the important issues of international cooperation of SPbSPU

Cooperation of St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University (SPbSPU) with Finnish Universities of Applied science is an important issue in the agenda of the SPbSPU internationalization. Finnish UAS are one of the most important strategic partners of our University. Cooperation between our institutions is implemented in the field of student exchange programs, joint educational programs, undergraduate and graduate programs, joint innovation projects for cross-border cooperation.

Working internationally SPbSPU had been visited by 254 delegations and teams a total of 714 people from 40 countries in the current year. The leader in the number of visitors is Finland -148 people. This is not surprising, given the large number of research projects and joint education bachelor’s and master’s programs, conducted SPbSPU together with the universities of Northern neighbor.

Valuable example of cooperation is long term history of work with Savonia University of Applied Science. Started in 2005, when SPbSPU Deans Club was invited to visit Savonia for familiarization visit, our universities’ cooperation has been reinforced by cooperation agreement on strategic partnership, signed by rectors of the universities in 2010. One of the most successful projects is the “Network for excellence in tourism through organizations and Universities in Russia”.

More than a hundred students and teachers of Savonia have been participating in short term study programs in business, IT, Russian language and culture, vocational training programs conducted by SPbSPU within last years. Saimaa University of Applied Sciences is one of our partners in double degree programs cooperation. “Theory and practice of organizational, technological, and economic decision-making“, “Organization and management of investment and construction projects“, “Automated design of buildings“, “Energetic and Sustainable Development“ – here is the list of joint degree programs developed and successfully conducted by our universities.

Our university cooperation with Finnish Universities of Applied sciences has a wide frame, long standing traditions and stable mutual benefits. There are a lot of Universities which are worse to be mentioned here such as Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences – our good partner in Civil Enginireeng, Haaga Helia UAS – partner in Russian language, culture and tourism, Kymenlaakso UAS – Design, Russian Language, business studies etc.

In 2012, together with the Finnish partners we celebrated 100 years of engineering education in Finland which was hosted by Tampere University of Applied Sciences. We were proud to be invited to this event, proud to understand committed partnership between UASs in Finland and HEIs Russia that lays the ground for our mutual long term success in training of highly qualified specialists.


Elena Nikonchuk, Director, International Educational Projects Office, St.Petersburg State Polytechnical University,

How to keep young people in the Barents region

While young people of the Barents Region move to the southern parts for the better employment and career possibilities, demographic downsizing should serve as a wake-up call to universities and industry in the region. Kemi-Tornio University of Applied Sciences and Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences (further referred as LapinAMK due to the recent merger) have been for many years on the front line of regional development work in terms of business innovation and human capital growth.

At the beginning of 2012, Lapin AMK in cooperation with partners from Russia, Norway and Sweden launched 3-year project Young Innovative Entrepreneurs (YIE) aimed to address common challenge and to encourage young people to discover wide business opportunities in the Barents region and to inspire them for the entrepreneurship across the border.

In this article we share some of our experiences and achievements:

Building an innovative support structure to make the ideas of young people to happen across the borders

Cross-border INNOBarentsLab (IBL) was established to ensure a full range of resources to provide young people with the support they need to introduce innovative products and services. The IBL includes office space on the base of two universities – LapinAMK in Rovaniemi and International Institute of Business education (MIBO) in Murmansk, Russia. In terms of professional recourses, IBL provides students with the professional support and supervision for real cross-border business development by experts from business and education.

Currently, the operation of the IBL is driven by the cross-border pilot cases worked-out by the test group of students and young entrepreneurs. IBL pilot cases organized within 4 themes: event management, marketing, cross-border development and IBL structure development. By the end of the project the IBL will be integrated into the educational structure of LapinAMK and MIBO and will allow us to test students’ ideas within the study process and turn the best of them into companies.

IBL is truly unique entity for young cross-border business cooperation in the Barents region. In the longer run we expect it to evolve to the broader network which will support young people to challenge the status quo with their ideas and change their regions to the prestigious places to live.

Picture made by Annett Pee, IBL participant

Building capacities and opportunities

It is essential to help young entrepreneurs to build a long-term cooperation network which will support their cross-border interactions and contact development. In this regard the role of the joint event cannot be overestimated. So far we held tree Matchmaking events in Finland, Russia and Norway. We arranged YIE events as arena were regional actors (experienced businessmen, academia and regional authorities) share their experiences and encourage young people. This is also a place where new cross-border business ideas are emerged and new business alliances created.

Previous 3 matchmaking events included pitch presentations and workshops by successful businessmen, business simulation game, pitching training. Feedbacks from the last Matchmaking event in Kirkenes (Norway) indicated that young people have learned a lot about innovation, how to create new products and how to later receive a profit from them, which is an important part of being an entrepreneur.

Picture made by Annett Pee, IBL participant

Sharing responsibilities and encourage initiativeness of young people

From the start, both in Finland and Russia we selected a group of proactive young individuals to be a pilot group for the INNOBarentsLab Lab. Some of them had already built successful businesses and some were just getting started into entrepreneurship. Some had never had business before, but all them had a strong desire to make a difference in the own region.

The first meetings with selected young people showed that the “test group” is too narrow for them. In no time, our IBL participants became and continue to be co-creators and steering force for the development of the IBL and its activities. Understanding that they can make a difference inspired young people to bring up fresh ideas, business projects and new partners.

Ones inspired, young people tend to come up with great innovative business ideas. In this case, our task is to provide support for the actual entrepreneurship and innovative idea development in practice. Increased innovative entrepreneurial activities across the border will also have a great impact on the whole regional socio-economic development. Youth are the future of the Barents region and the foundation that the project will lay for the innovative entrepreneurial activity amongst young people will have a long term impact on the region.


Irina Gerashchenko, Project Manager, Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences,

The development actions of the UAS Journal in a nutshell

The UAS Journal is under a constant scrutiny: the editing team has looked into the making process of the journal to find out whether or not the development activities have been successful.

Dr Mervi Friman, Mr Mauri Kantola, and Ms Lotta Linko have looked in the processes of the journal bearing in mind the aim of the publication. The method used is action research with quantitative analysis on the contents, production process, and the participating network of the UAS Journal. The writers have studied what the interventions on the UAS Journal network and publication are and what outcomes of those interventions can be identified and measured.

Three processes can be identified in the UAS Journal publication: editing, marketing and networking. The processes are somewhat overlapping particularly in the areas of marketing and networking.

During the past couple of years, there have been six identified interventions in the editing process. The marketing and networking processes have both had four interventions. The figure below sums the interventions and outcomes. Click on the image to view it in larger size.

The outcomes in some cases are very streamlined, supporting each other. One example of a consequentual action/outcome is the following: The introduction of theme issues and visiting editors in the editing process has sharpened the contents and allowed a more focused marketing. The targeted marketing has resulted in more visitors which again is supported by social media presence, allowing to share the article wider.

Mr Mauri Kantola and Ms Lotta Linko attended the EAIR annual conference in Rotterdam in August 2013 where they presented their poster on the actions and outcomes of the UAS Journal processes. The travel report along with other video material can be found at UAS Journal’s YouTube channel.


Ms Lotta Linko, Subeditor of the UAS Journal,

Mr Mauri Kantola, Social media expert of the UAS Journal,

Cross-cultural Understanding on the VET and Vocational Higher Education – Ammattikoulutuksen ja ammattikorkeakoulutuksen tutkimuspäivät 2012

Ammattikoulutuksen ja ammattikorkeakoulutuksen tutkimuspäivät 2012

Puheenvuorossa esitellään havaintoja ja huomioita ammattikoulutuksen ja ammattikorkeakoulutuksen tutkimuspäiviltä Tampereelta 7.-8.11.2012. Tutkimuspäivien tavoitteena oli ammattikorkeakoulutuksen ja ammatillisen koulutuksen tutkimuksen levittäminen ja toimijoiden verkostoituminen. Pääteemana oli Arvot muutoksessa.

Cross-cultural Understanding on the VET and Vocational Higher Education

Opiskelija Dong Seob Lee (Tampereen yliopisto, ammattikasvatus)

The cultural diversity and internal variety of education is currently challenged by the unity of knowledge, skills and competences, showing converging reality at macro-level and divergent and heterogeneous character at the micro-level. The international session from Austria, Sweden, South Korea, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, and Japan unfolds the dynamic, complex picture of the reforms of VET, vocational higher education, labour market policies, and their curricula and contents. In addition, it makes it difficult to define unstable positions of institutions, professionals, and individual learners in the progress of industries from labor-intensive to capital-intensive, and ultimately to technology-intensive.

Faced with these challenges, Dr. Mikkio Eswein traced the change of meaning and values of education and work among younger Japanese between 2001 and 2011. In the period of recession she found out that traditional work- and organization-committed values had gained importance, especially among temporary and female workers. Dr. Lorenz Lassnigg pointed out different approaches for the historical analysis; “in order to understand the reforms of Austrian education and training sector, I think, we can cross the different disciplines, different perspectives, and different theories to approach. We can find very fundamental ideas in different entities, systems and disciplines. Different issues of reform in education and training are tackled by very different disciplines. For instance, people from management discipline are very much trying to make theories of the New Public Management (NPM) work.” In response to Fay Lund-Nilsson´s interpretation of changes in forest workers´ vocational education, Anja Heikkinen commented about differences in the historical and cultural backgrounds of Swedish and Finnish forest work, “If you’re looking into the history related with the VET, the ownership of forest can help to explain it more widely… In Finland forestry belongs to agriculture and therefore solutions in VET may have been different than in Sweden.”

Stefanie Stolz brings out the essential challenges of school-to-work transition between Finish and Swiss VET. She pointed out that steering and reforming process concerning VET and school-to-work transitions are mainly influenced by national discourse although both countries have already or will implement national qualification frameworks under the trans-national agenda. Dong Seob Lee focused on the complexities and challenges in reforming engineering sector of the Ammattikorkeakoulu and Korea Polytechnic University since 1990. He unfolded the meaning and value of vocational education in a process of locating unstable positions between “capitalism” and “community values” on a non-linear timeline in response to different perspectives, concerns and issues of competency based curriculum in different context.

Timo Nevalainen speculated a concept of entrepreneurial education how it is seen in real practice of Finish vocational higher education context. Anja Heikkinen pointed out “when the entrepreneurial education, yrittäjyys, is translated, it is important to identify what different connotation it has had in the Finnish context. It’s more earning one’s living that makes something else profits”. Furthermore, Katrin Kraus said “entrepreneurship education should be critically analyzed because it brings people to show some kind of attitude itself in all institutions and all settings”.

In a series of Marjatta Huhta’s research group presentation, she argued that many studies for the company are not collected as best theory and practice. “The Ammattikorkeakoulu should provide the values to look at profound phenomenon for a coming ready solution.” Anja Heikkinen asserted that “master thesis is a whole academic process both for personal and collective purposes. Hence, how she/ he manage through this process and during this development, the product should be useful afterwards, to give values for the enterprise. In response to that, Marjatta Huhta said “there are some developmental innovations related to the business, I think, the more dialogical studies for most business student.” Furthermore, Erja Turunen commented that “we expect that most of thesis in the Ammattikorkeakoulu are willing to work for some organizations, it is only something for our students. We expect to the master students would be the developers. It’s very often that they do it to be truly as an action research, for they are involved. If they are involved, so they are starting at the beginning and they come out. Most of master programs at the Ammattikorkeakoulu are part time basis for 2 years, which makes it possible for really do something for all the time. Then, have any enough time and include that master thesis? Because some students are delay their studies.”

The issue of inclusion and exclusion with disabilities in dual VET system in Germany can be differently perceived from different actors of sub-cultures in accordance with what angles we are looking for and looking at. The inclusion policy can be perceived as an evil in that the State tried to save their national budgets so that it should be carefully reflected beyond educational and training context. Dr. Manfred Wahle also pointed out in his presentation “the domination of the well-established system of sheltered workshops in the area of VET is without being linked with enterprises, vocational schools and universities in a region. The widely missing cooperation of parents, teachers, instructors and researchers in order to develop adequate concepts of inclusive VET. It should not only think in the framework of education but implement suitable didactical methodological concepts.”

Finally, with the interaction of different cultures in this international session we can grasp more in-depth and holistic pictures which find a feasible solution to the dilemmas that each country faces, while tracing back to the history, and can come to take a proper shape of future VET and vocational higher education to engage in local community and to reflect on the values and meanings of education and training.

Koulutuksen arvovalinnat ja haasteet

Yliopettaja, TtL Heidi Kassara, Tampereen ammattikorkeakoulu

Sessiossa oli kaksi esitystä. Ensimmäinen esityksen piti Lahden ammattikorkeakoulun Innovaatiokeskuksesta YTM Susanna Vanhamäki, joka kertoi mielenkiintoisesta työelämälähtöisestä oppimisesta EcoMill -ympäristötehokkuustyöpajassa. Hanke on ESR -rahoitteinen. Siinä tavoitteena on työelämän kanssa tehtävä yhteistyö, ympäristötehokkuus, opetusteknologiset menetelmät ja projektin oppimistaidot. Se on työelämälähtöistä oppimista käytännössä ja osana perusopetusta, jossa tärkeänä on tietojen ja taitojen lisäksi asenteet ja projektioppiminen. Hieno esimerkki tästä on ammattikorkeakoulun ja oppimiskeskus Fellmanin kanssa tehty projekti, jossa osana kestävää kehitystä kunnostettiin opiskelijoille pajoissa vanhoja kierrätettäviä pyöriä opiskelijoille osana kestävää kehitystä. Opiskelijat ovat tehneet myös Mukkulan koulun jätehuollon suunnitelman. Tähän mennessä saatu palaute on hyvää.

Saman session toisen esityksen piti Hämeen ammattikorkeakoulusta Eija Laitinen. Hän on aloittanut väitöskirjan tekemisen aiheenaan ammattikorkeakoulun opettajien kulttuurienvälinen kompetenssi. Tutkimuksen tavoitteena on lisätä tietoa, jota voidaan käyttää koulutuksen kehittämiseen ja kansainvälistymisen ohjaamiseen. Aihe on tärkeä, koska niin kulttuurienvälisyys kuin kansainvälisyys koskevat meitä kaikkia entistä enemmän. Laitinen korosti, että kulttuurienvälisyyttä voi oppia ja opettaa. Kokemus on tarpeen, mutta kulttuurienvälisyys ei synny pelkästä kokemuksesta, vaan siinä tarvitaan myös itsereflektiota.

Feevale Campus and the Concert Hall in Brazil

A university should be prepared for the challenges that have being happening. The university is faced with a complex situation, explains the Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2008), highlighting that increasing demands from society have arisen. The university has to be connected to life, internally or combined with the global scenery, says the Brazilian philosopher Renato Janine Ribeiro (2003), which assumes that we must listen to what society says and wants.

Feevale University

Feevale University was established in 1969 from an initiative of the community. Feevale is located in Novo Hamburgo in the State of Rio Grande do Sul. Novo Hamburgo city has arisen from the settlement of German immigrants in Vale do Sinos River. In the seventies, the growth in the footwear industry attracted thousands of migrants. Leather cluster and shoe manufacturing are still a considerable percentage of the local economy but the city hosts important footwear and accessory international fairs as well, positioning itself as a trend and a technological leader in this segment. Committed with the regional development and dedicated to educate citizens in different areas of knowledge, the University has brought cultural, educational, technological, economic and social development for the region.

Feevale has two campuses in Novo Hamburgo, and it is also provided with two extension Technological Parks. The University counts with approximately 16500 enrolled students, 574 Professors out of 1435 employees, 46 Continuous Extension Projects, 70 international partners in 21 countries. 25 Research Groups work in four different fields: Pure Sciences and Technology, Health Sciences, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and Applied Social Sciences. Feevale covers all education levels: children’s education, elementary school, high school, professional education, 44 undergraduate programs and graduate studies, Masters and Doctorates degrees.

Knowledge to renew the World

This is the slogan of the University that has the mission to promote the production and the democratization of knowledge, contributing to the development of society. The Institution pursues to be a recognized university in knowledge production and in innovative entrepreneurship. According to its mission and attentive to the social needs for a privileged space for culture, to fulfill regional demands,  hosting seminars, graduation ceremonies, plays, concerts and many other kinds of events, the project of a cultural area was conceived for.

Though, from the academic needs and the diffusion of artistic and cultural production in the region, a concert hall was built, named Feevale Theater:

Feevale Theater is a pride for all of us. We believe that the place  will allow improvement in the cultural field, transforming the intellectual production of our University. After all, it is not possible to talk about education without speaking about culture, neither talk about culture without speaking about education, affirmed Rector Ramon Fernando da Cunha (Picoral, p. 15, 2011).

The Project

The project area covers 21,219.22 square meters. Besides the theater itself there is also a parking lot with 482 parking spaces and there is still a reserved area for a panoramic restaurant to be built.

The theater has 1,826 seats, excellent stage size and a variety of scenic equipment. It arises as the first largest theater in the State and the fourth largest theater in the country inside a university.


Feevale Theater was built inside Campus II of Feevale University next to a major highway of the state (RS239) in order to facilitate the public access.

Seeking to create conditions of accessibility to all citizens, including people with disabilities or reduced mobility, a “ring” was designed. This way, the audience is at the same level of the foyer and the stage, in order to ensure autonomy and independence to everyone: spectators and artists.

The visual programming was designed in a modular and bilingual system considering different situations.

The Opening and The Agenda

In September, 20th 2011, the Spanish tenor José Carreras performed at the theater, opening the new area of culture in Novo Hamburgo. The Theater has also host Rick Wakeman from the United Kingdom; the Celtic Legends from Ireland; Virsky – the National Ballet from UkraineMoscow – Circus on Ice among many others international, national and local artists as well.

Cooperation through Culture

The greatness of the project is impressive, but what we should consider is the potential for cultural actions that the concert hall can host. Transcending the conventional areas of education, approaching cultures through national and international performances, are some of the possibilities that we hope to multiply. Expanding the cultural agenda with artistic performances of the representatives from Feevale’s partners, as Finland, with a long tradition of excellence in the arts, would certainly be a highly enriching cooperation through the indelible bonds of culture.

Feevale Theater, designed by Alan Einsfeldt, Dean of the Architecture College, places our region in the itinerary for national and international events.


Paula Casari Cundari, PhD, Journalist, Lawyer and Professor In the Social Communication College and Director of International Affairs of Feevale University, Brazil,

Picoral, Rosana (org.). Teatro Feevale – Porto Alegre: Palotti, 2011.

Ribeiro, Renato Janine. A Universidade e a Vida Atual. Campus: Rio de Janeiro, 2003.

Santos, Boaventura de Sousa; Almeida Filho, Naomar. A Universidade no século XXI: para uma universidade nova. Almedina: Coimbra, 2008.

Health promotion in adolescence: what about the social media?

Adolescence is an essential time for health promotion (Viner et al. 2012, WHO 2012). Lifestyle and health related behaviors adapted during adolescence most often continue through later life and strongly effects future health. Social factors at individual, family, school, community and national level strongly effect health as well as health related behaviors and lifestyles adapted by the adolescents. The role of these factors strongly correlates to the future health of the whole population and the development of nations. Worldwide the strongest determinants of adolescent health are structural and related to the poverty: national wealth, income inequality, access to education, safe and supportive families, schools and peers. The most effective interventions to promote health in adolescents are suggested to relate to the general well-being in every day family life. Also factors, such as addressing risks in adolescents´ social and physical environments, access to education and employment as well as preventing injuries, consumption of alcohol and unsafe sex have been suggested as most relevant factors for promoting the health in adolescence. (Gore et al.2011, Viner et al. 2012.)

Health promotion is strongly based on values and the core question lies in the justification of the content as well as the actions (Leino-Kilpi 2009). Respect for general human rights, doing good and avoiding harm, justice, honesty, reliability, equality and empowerment are strongly related to the justification of health promotion. (Cribb & Duncan 2002, WHO 2011). The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986) is often addressed as the ethical cornerstone for health promoters around the world. According to the Ottawa Charter, health is defined as a resource for everyday life. Education, peace, food, income, social justice, and equity are presented as prerequisites for health and basic foundations for health promotion. (The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion).

As main factors and ethical consideration regarding health promotion in adolescents have shortly been discussed, we now move to an excessively growing and extremely challenging environment of health promotion; the social media. Social media is part of the life of most present day adolescents and they use online social media, such as social networking sites (eg. Facebook and MySpace), blogs and status updating sites (eg. Twitter) and chat rooms (Pujazon-Zazik & Park 2010). The social media includes online activities and virtual communities where people share information and interact using words, pictures, videos and audio material based on shared interests (Safko & Brake 2009). Social media can be categorized into: forums and message boards, review and opinion sites, social networks, blogging and micro blogging, bookmarking and media sharing (Sterne 2010).

Purposes and effects of social media

There are potential positive effects of online socializing. These positive effects have been suggested to relate to building and maintaining social contacts, learning and refining the ability to exercise self-control, express sentiments in a normative manner, develop tolerance, respect to others, critical thinking and decision making (Berson et al.2002). There are also potential negative effects of the online social media, such as cyberbullying, online risk-taking behavior, sexual predators (Pujazon-Zazik & Park 2010), promotion of unhealthy lifestyles (Seidenberg et al. 2012) and sharing of misleading health-related information (Betch 2011).

Several researchers have addressed serious concern about the emotional well-being of present day adolescents (Sourander et al. 2008, Laaksonen et al. 2008, 2010). Additionally there have been suggestions about the social media creating a new, potential mental health problem, the ‘addiction’ to social networks and online games. The research evidence addressing the addictive qualities of the social networks are however still relatively scarce. The social media and networking sites are mostly used for quite common social purposes. Extraverts have been suggested to use social networking sites for social communication whereas introverts tend to use the sites for compensation for “real life” social connections. The negative effects of the social media usage include decreased engagement in “real life” social connections and participation which are reduced academic performance and problems in personal relationships, factors generally related to addictions. (Kuss & Griffiths 2011). As the negative effects of the social media on the real life social relations and school performance have been addressed, some concerning results are reported in the Finnish results of the 2010-2011 School Health Promotion (SHP) Study. According to the 2010-2011 SHP results about 5% of adolescents report use of internet reducing the quality of their social relations, 20-30% report using internet negatively effecting school performance and about 25% report using internet causing disruption in circadian rhythm. (School Health Promotion Study).

In the context of health promotion, social media has been described to be used for five main purposes: 1) communicating with consumers, 2) establishing positive brand pictures, 3) disseminating information, 4) expanding the reach of health promotion to broad and diverse audiences and 5) fostering partnership and engagement (O’Mara 2012, Neiger 2012). The health promoters should utilize the social media for what it potentially can deliver but not as a solution to complexities in health behavior and lifestyles. The social media may carry the potential for evidence based, ethically solid health promotion but also as an environmental for contradictive purposes (Neiger et al. 2012). Next we´ll be presenting few examples of studies describing social media in the context of health promotion.

Importance of online decision making

Research on the effects of internet and social media on health-related decision making is rare but as the use of these new environments are increasing; the body of literature and research on these topics is rapidly growing. People in general report that internet does not affect their decision making but according to Betch (2011) the internet may in fact play a very important role in the persons´ health-related decision making processes. It has been suggested that a person can use information in several phases of the decision making process and that information selected and processed from internet and the social media may significantly affect the current as well as future decisions.

Seidenberg et al. (2011) performed a You Tube video search to analyze the content of the videos related to smokeless tobacco. Description of smell, flavor, social references and interactions were found to be presented in over 50% of the videos. By contrast, references of public health information or the effects of nicotine were identified in only about 10% of the videos. None of the identified videos had restrictions preventing youths from viewing the content. The study suggests that You Tube doesn´t restrict youth from viewing smokeless tobacco videos and calls for attention to prevent social media to become vehicles for promoting smoking in adolescents.

Gold et al. (2011) performed a literature review aiming to examine the extent to which social networking sites (SNS) are used for sexual health promotion. The review identified almost 180 sexual health promotion activities from which only one was identified through a traditional systematic search of the published scientific literature. Most commonly used social networking activities targeted on young people, involved information delivery and were conducted by non-profit organizations. The most commonly used site was Facebook, followed by MySpace and Twitter. The amount of users and posts varied greatly between health promotion activities. The study suggest that social media is used for sexual health promotion but not reported in the scientific literature. Future research is needed to guide the development of health promotion activities in the environments of the social media.

Marketing substance use online

Morgan et al (2010) examined the adolescents´ use of social media web sites to post imagines or videos of themselves describing alcohol consumption, inebriated behavior or use of marijuana. The majority of the identified videos representing use of alcohol depicted females in social situations while videos representing use of marijuana depicted males. The identified videos were quite frequently viewed and gained positive ratings from the viewers. The adolescents´ attitudes toward posting alcohol-related consumption on the social media sites were generally positive and seen as a matter of individual decision making. Marijuana-related posting were however seen more negatively. Future research is needed to provide knowledge about motivation to post images and videos of substance use in the social media as well as the benefits and risks related to these activities. The study however suggests that adolescents in general relatively frequently seem to accept alcohol-related activities.

Moreno et al (2012) examined how the displayed use of alcohol and problematic drinking on Facebook is associated to self-reported problem drinking in adolescents. The adolescents who displayed problematic drinking on Facebook were more likely to score high AUDIT results, suggesting problematic drinking, more likely than the adolescents who did not display such activity. Also the ones who displayed use of alcohol on Facebook were more likely to report alcohol related injuries than the ones who did not display use of alcohol. As a conclusion to the research, it was suggested that Facebook references to problematic use of alcohol was positively associated with high AUDIT scores as well as alcohol related injuries. Further research is suggested to evaluate social media as a tool for targeting populations and send health promoting messages, advertisements or information to selected groups.

The alcohol marketing in the social media use several different strategies. There are real-world-tie-ins that refer to themed night club events across the globe that serve as marketing events of different brands of alcohol. There are interactive games that eg. invite users to suggest alternative endings to commercial videos, sponsored online events that are connected to materials advertising a certain brand. Also encouraging messages to drink have been produced by different alcohol brands. No Facebook posts explicitly recommended responsible or moderate drinking. According to the research social media allows new ways to add marketing to alcohol sales. In additional to the traditional marketing of stimulate conversation about brands but they also allow users to observe, analyze and direct those conversations on a larger scale. Moreover the social media allows embed brand-related activities in the routines of the social media consumptions for excessive amounts of people and encourage real time alcohol use. As a conclusion, social media reaches into new levels of advertising than any previous communications platforms in blurring the boundaries between advertising, consumer interaction and broader social activities (Nicholls 2012).

Adult involvement and research needed

Clearly, there are more than technical skills needed in health promotion in adolescence with social media. The virtual environment has altered the way of communication, learning and socializing for all of its users. The social media consists of, not only interaction between media and other people but also, invisible mental system of the users. In order to promote healthy choices in this unique virtual mental world, adults need to focus on creating and navigating in adolescents’ social environment with them, meaning complex virtual context of multipronged dimensions and approaches to health-related topics.

Evidently adolescents learn more from their peer group online and use social media and online searches as a key source of advice and information than before exploring critical developmental period, social status, friendships and romance. Social media is there for an important environment to empower adolescents´ as in-person contact or with exclusive health content to support health promotion against unhealthy, damaging or traumatizing information and social contacts online. As evidence about the effect of the social media on the health and well-being of adolescents as well as on the content and utilization of methods implemented for health promotion is scarce, future research on this topic is highly recommended.


Camilla Laaksonen, PhD, Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS), the Faculty of Health Care,

Jan Holmberg, Master of Health Care,

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Changes in Finnish nursing students’ learning approaches between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s


Higher education in nursing started in Finland at the beginning of the 1990s. The establishment of tertiary education in nursing was part of an academic drift towards developing the formerly non- university-based, vocationally oriented courses into an internationally more comparable educational model and to develop a nursing education that can serve the changing needs of the rapidly developing world of work. (Pratt 1997; compare Ahola 2006) The education is organised in Universities of Applied Sciences, which have since 2002 also offered practice-oriented Master’s level degree studies. The current Bachelor-level education lasts for 3.5 years and the matriculation examination or vocational education is required from all applicants. (Statute 351 / 2003; 351 / 2003)

The main aim in developing nursing education into a higher educational programme was to enable students to obtain a comprehensive picture of the role of nursing in the Finnish health care. This meant expanding the view of nursing not only in this society but also internationally. It was considered important to enable nurses to acquire a higher level of training in the field of nursing. Previously, vocational nursing education had provided the knowledge and skills for nursing practice, and one aim of higher education in nursing was to develop inquiring minds in the students, in addition to transferring knowledge and skills. The overall aim was to educate a new kind of personnel that can promote innovative changes in the profession (Pratt 1997).

At the end of the 2000s, higher education in nursing in Finland has become well established. This reform in Finnish nursing education has taken into account the Bologna Process, which aimed to create by 2010 a European Higher Education Area where students can choose from a wide and transparent range of high quality courses and benefit from recognition and accreditation procedures. The Bologna Declaration of June 1999 put into motion a series of reforms to make higher education in Europe more compatible, more comparable and more competitive. As a result, nursing students can participate in student exchange programs and nurses can work in the other signatory countries. This kind of nursing education is also available outside Europe: for example, Turkey strives to develop its nursing education in line with the Bologna Declaration. Some central features of nursing education in selected countries are presented in Table 1, based on articles in international journals of nursing (Bahcecik & Alpar 2009; Davies 2008; Khomeiran & Deans 2007; Kyrkjebo et al. 2002; Svavarsdottir 2008; Turale et al. 2008).

Table 1. Comparison of central features of nursing education in various countries

Nursing studies at the academic level first commenced in the University of Kuopio in 1979 in the administrative training program. Studies in nursing administration, nurse teacher training and nursing science were organized in the universities in full by 1996. To be able to apply for these programmes, the applicants had to have a nurse specialist qualification. In several countries Master’s level education can be completed either with or without honours, i.e. with emphasis on research studies or with specialization. However, Finnish nurses specialize already during their studies at Bachelor-level, while academic research studies are completed during Master’s degree studies. The development of Master’s level nursing studies has strengthened the research orientation of Finnish nurses. (Kuuppelomäki & Tuomi 2005).

The aim of the reform in nursing education in Finland was to produce nurses who are able to take more responsibility in nursing and can become equal members of multi-professional teams in health care. Before higher education in nursing was established, there had been a national curriculum for nurse education. After the reform in the 1990`s every school of nursing at the Universities of Applied Sciences had to create an individual nursing curriculum for their institution. Besides the content of the curriculum, nursing schools also defined the learning approach they were planning to use. Mainly the schools chose to adopt the ideas of the cognitive view of learning, and therefore underlined the importance of supporting the idea of students’ self-directed learning. (Ponkala 2001; Perälä & Ponkala 1999)

The aim of this article is to describe how the learning approach of nursing students has changed since 1990’s. The data were collected from Universities of Applied Sciences in different parts of Finland during 1996-1997 and 2006-2007. The paper reveals the changes that occurred, and offers some similarities and differences between them.

The approaches to learning nursing

The focus in the training type curriculum had been in clinical skills and nursing care of patients mainly in hospitals (Roxburgh et al 2008). The learning approach used in this kind of nursing curriculum until the 1980s can be described as a didactic learning process. This approach to teaching and learning has also been referred to as the behaviouristic paradigm (Romyn 2001). In this approach, the nursing teacher is considered to be in possession of the necessary knowledge and also knows how to transfer it: in other words, she knows how to teach students. Students are expected to be able to apply this knowledge, first during their laboratory studies, and then in their nursing practice in patient care. Similar features of the learning process have also been described in pedagogy (Knowles 1980) and single loop learning process (Greenwood 1998).

The early 1980s was a turning point in the views of learning in nursing curricula. Student-centered views of learning began to gain more significance in nursing curricula. In Finland, this shift started in the mid-1980s, following the ideas of Marton and Säljö (1976). This learning approach can be associated with constructivism and meaningful learning, which are related to cognitive psychology and the humanistic-psychological model of learning (Apodaca & Grad 2005; Ausubel 1978). The approach emphasised students’ abilities to be active learners who improve and modify the structure of their knowledge. Earlier experiences, knowledge and attitudes influenced the students’ learning process. The teachers role is to support the learner to find information and insight, and to identify learning and work-related problems.

As mentioned earlier, in the 1990’s the idea of students’ self-directed learning was emphasised in the nursing curricula. Self-directed learning is possible when the methods of learning support the students’ own possibilities to plan, carry out and evaluate their learning process (Levett-Jones 2005). Methods such as learning diaries (Blake 2005) and portfolios (Williams & Jordan 2007) have been tested to enhance critical thinking, meaningful and active learning and reflective practice. Portfolios focus especially on supporting students in managing change efficiently. They also help them in terms of self-directed learning to find ways which will assist them in enhancing the quality of their learning activities. Actually, both concept mapping (Hay 2008; Abel 2006; Hsu 2004) and portfolios (Bashook et al. 2008) have been suggested to be very useful in e-learning, too. The self-directed learning approach has changed the role of the teacher, as well. Teachers are seen as facilitators (Badeau 2010, Williams 2004), defined in terms of genuine mutual respect, a partnership in learning, a dynamic, goal-oriented process, and critical reflections between the facilitator and the student. This conception is also connected with the humanistic paradigm in nursing education (Gillespie 2005).

Besides the view of self-directed learning, the co-operational learning became more popular also in the nursing curricula during the 2000’s. Several situated learning theories (Lave & Wenger 1991) and work-based learning (Guile & Griffits 2001) approaches describe the possibilities of learning from one another, and of learning in teams, in terms of democratic dialogues and co-operational meetings. Moreover, the situated learning theory assumes that knowledge is embedded within the context in which it is used and cannot be separated from the activity, context, and culture of that situation (Lave & Wenger 1991; Engeström 2001). Co-operative learning and situated learning have been highlighted as necessary for learning the co-operational methods needed to function as a member of a multi-professional team working in complex situations in health care (Tynjälä 2008). In co-operative learning the ownership of teaching and learning is shared by the students.

The aim of the study and study questions

The aim of the study was to describe how the learning approach of nursing students in Finland has changed since 1990’s . This study set out to answer the following questions from nursing students’ point of view:

i) to what extent did Finnish nursing students demonstrate and express the features of assisting, self-directive and co-operational actors in 1996-1997 and in 2006-2007, as their approach to learning nursing?
ii) what differences are there in nursing students’ approaches to learning nursing between the years 1996-1997 and 2006-2007?
iii) to what extent do the background variables (age, sex, professional or lay experience in nursing) explain the differences in students’ approach to learning nursing between 1996- 1997 and 2006-2007?


Sample and data collection

The data was gathered during 1997 and in 2006-2007 in nursing schools in Universities of Applied Sciences in northern, western, central, eastern and southern Finland in order to get geographically and regionally relevant information.

The amount of nursing schools in the Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences was 24 in 1997, 23 in 2006 and 22 in 2007. The total amount of nursing students in Finland was 5,589 students in 1997, 6,891 students in 2006 and 7,545 students in 2007. Four schools were chosen into the sample in 1996-1997 and six schools in 2006-2007. Three of the schools were the same in both phases of the data collection. The number of nursing students in those sample schools was 712 students in 1997, 2,056 students in 2006 and 2,141 students in 2007. (Finnish Ministry of Culture and Education, online statistics 14 April 2011)

The nursing students (N=1,086) voluntarily answered the questionnaire: 426 in 1997 and 660 in 2006-2007. The response rate in 2006-2007 was 76.4%. In 1997 the researcher administered the data collection at schools. In 2006-2007 the questionnaire (N=864) was delivered to students by the research assistants. The questionnaire was given to all nursing students, who were having their theoretical study period during the data collection (simple random sampling). In 1997 37.5% of the respondents were first year students and 40.1% final year students. Information was missing from 22.5% of the respondents. In 2006-2007, 57.4% of the respondents were first year and 42.6% last year students.

The questionnaire contained questions concerning background factors and 26 Likert-type statements. The following background factors were elicited: sex, age, any children, pre-educational caring experiences and intentions to leave nursing. The statements were designed on the basis of a literature review. The tool consists of three sub-scales measuring nursing students’ approach to learning nursing; the assisting, self-directive and co-operative actor approach. Each sub-scale includes statements measuring the relationship between nursing student and nurse teacher/supervisor, the relationships with peers while learning nursing, and nursing students’ views of learning and of responsibility in the field of nursing

The student with assisting actor approach needs the teacher’s and supervisor’s support, and the encouragement of peers. She is willing to work with an experienced nurse and is able to work as a reliable member of a nursing group. However, she is not willing to take personal responsibility in patient care.

A self-directive actor sees teachers, supervisors and other experts primarily as facilitators who share information with her. Such students want to learn to make decisions independently. They want to develop their individual structure of knowledge continually and develop an inquiring mind towards their work and working environment. They want to learn to take responsibility in their given field.

The co-operational actor wants to test her knowledge, ideas and practices together with peers and a multi-professional team in practical situations during her education. For these students, learning is not an individual but a shared experience. It is possible to create new practices and to evaluate them while learning nursing and developing patient care in health care practice. Co-operational actors are willing to take responsibility as individuals and as members of a multi-professional team.

Ethical questions

In Finland, the permission of the Ethical Committee is not required if the research does not deal with patients or other vulnerable groups. After gaining approval for the research from the institutions (today they are called Universities of Applied Sciences), the researchers contacted nursing teachers. The teachers who agreed to participate asked the students to take part in the study and then organized the data collection. Completing the questionnaire was voluntary and the students answered anonymously.

Data analysis

The data were analysed using SPSS for Windows 15.1. Factor analysis was used to compress information into smaller units. The principal component method and Varimax rotation were used in factor analysis. The criteria for separating the variables for factor analysis were the following: sufficiently high loading of items on the factors (≥ .40), high communality values (≥ .30) and as clear a solution as possible. Three factors emerged: co-operational actor, assisting actor, and self-directive actor (Table 2). The sum scores were calculated for each factor. The internal consistency of the sum variables was tested using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. The Mann-Whitney U-test and Chi-Square test were used for testing the change between the 1990s and the 2000s. The Chi-Square test was used to test the similarities in the demographics. There were only slight differences (max. 10 %) in the demographics between the two time periods of data collection.

Table 2. Factors describing nursing students’ approaches to learning nursing

Reliability and validity of the measurement tool

The validity and reliability of the measurement tool were tested before use in this study by panel evaluation and subsequently by using psychometric measurements. An expert panel assessed the validity and reliability in terms of readability, homogeneity and content validity using a paper and pencil test. The panel members (Finnish nursing students) assessed all items in terms of clarity and content validity. The agreement on homogeneity with all items was over .60.
Actually, the sumscores used were on ordinal data. However, when using this kind of scale the sumscores can be handled as continuing variables. The Cronbach alpha coefficient was .759 on the whole scale, and validity was measured using explorative factor analysis, which supported the three- factor solution (Nunnally & Bernstein 1994) (Table 2). The value of alphas in the subscales varied from 0.78 to 0.54, which can be seen rather low. However, it is notable that the value of alpha varies according to the number of variables in the measurement tool and subscales, i.e., the more variables, the higher the alpha (Carmenis & Zeller 1979).


Students’ background factors

Most of the participating students were females in both the 1990s (90.4%) and the 2000s (92.4%). In fact, the distribution between the sexes was about the same as it is in nursing in general in Finland (Finnish Ministry of Culture and Education, online statistics 14 April 2011). Moreover, there was not a big difference concerning the age distribution, either: more than half of the participants were in the youngest age group. Furthermore, the nursing students of the 2000s had more professional nursing experience than those of the 1990s. In effect this meant that the nursing students of the 2000s had already had occupational education in nursing: i.e., before continuing their studies in higher education they had been working as nurses and wanted to develop further in nursing. In contrast, the nursing students of the 1990s started their nursing education straight after their secondary education (Table 3).

Table3. Students’ background variables in the mid-1990s and in the mid-2000s

The changes in nursing students’ approaches to learning nursing in the 1990s and in the 2000s

In the questionnaire, the Likert scale offered choices between 1 (agree) and 5 (disagree). The smaller the mean scores, the more the respondents agreed with the statements. The extent to which the nursing students revealed different approaches to learning nursing varied in the mid-1990s and mid- 2000s (Table 4).

Table 4. Nursing students’ approaches to learning nursing in the mid-1990s and in the mid-2000s and differences between the means (M) of expressions (Mann-Whitney U -test for equality of means)

The results show that features of assisting actor were more common among the nursing students in
the mid-2000s than in the mid-1990s. The change was statistically significant (Table 4). On the other hand, the nursing students of the 1990s expressed fewer features of the co-operational actor than did those students who studied in the 2000s. However, there was no change concerning the features of the self-directive actors between the students of the 1990s and those of the 2000s (Table 4).

Connections between background variables and nursing students’ approaches to learning nursing

The results suggest that some of the background variables explain the variation among the nursing students of the different decades. The results show that the female students of the mid-2000s, in general, expressed more features of the assisting orientation to learning nursing than did those studying in the mid-1990s. On the other hand, there was no significant difference among the male students of these decades. There was a clear trend of more students in the age groups 17-20 and 21- 23 years expressing features of the assisting approach (p<.001). The nursing students who had had earlier lay experience in the field of nursing and who had studied in the mid-2000s, expressed fewer features of the assisting actor (p<.001) than did students who had studied in the mid-1990s (Table 4).

Neither the age group, sex, nor earlier professional experience in the field of nursing explained the change in nursing students’ self-directive learning approach. The only exception is the youngest age group: students between 17 and 20 years of age were significantly more oriented to self- directedness than the older students. The students of the mid-1990s who had had earlier lay experience in the field of nursing to some extent revealed more features of self-directive learning approach than did students who had studied in the mid-2000s (p=.045) (Table 4).

The background variables explained some of the changes concerning the co-operative approach to learning nursing between the students of the mid-1990s and those of the mid-2000s. Sex explained some of this change in the mid-2000s. The trend was for the expression of fewer features of the co- operational approach to learning nursing in the cohort of the mid-2000s. The difference was statistically significant in both sex groups. Moreover, the age (17-23 and 31-55 years) explained the change in demonstrating fewer features of the co-operative approach to learning nursing when coming to the mid-2000s. The students of the mid-1990s and those who had previous lay experience in the field of nursing expressed more features of co-operational actors than did the students who had studied in the mid-2000s (p=.001). Moreover, the students of the 1990s who intended to change fields in the future showed more features of co-operational actors than did those of the 2000s. The difference was statistically significant (p<.001). Among the nursing students who did not express such intentions, the trend was the same (p<.032) (Table 4).


The aim of the study was to describe how the learning approach of nursing students in Finland has changed since 1990’s. The results suggest that the features of the assisting approach to learning nursing among nursing students were on the increase between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s. The assisting actor approach means that the needs the teacher’s and supervisor’s support, and the encouragement of peers. However, to some extent she hesitates to take personal responsibility in patient care. This is surprising because the learning methods used nowadays are intended to promote self-directiveness among nursing students (Blake 2005; Williams & Jordan 2007; Levett- Jones 2005). However, some students are able to manage their learning process better, whereas others need more supervision (Levett-Jones 2005). According to these results, the number of features of self-directiveness has not changed among these student groups.

The nursing students of the 2000s expressed fewer features of co-operational actors than did those of the 1990s. The co-operational actor approach includes testing knowledge, ideas and practices together with peers and a multi-professional team and emphasises learning as a shared experience. The decrease of these features may be the result of the use of learning methods that support the students’ self-directive learning and individual learning processes. However, nurses have to work as full members of interdisciplinary teams in social and health care. In fact, there are some studies that support the development of interdisciplinary learning in the field of health care (Jacobsen et al.
2009; Steiner et al. 2008). In nursing education in the future, it could be valuable to pay more attention to the development of nursing students into responsible actors in multi-professional health care teams.

There are many measurement tools that can be used to analyse and evaluate the learning styles of students, and they have been used in nursing studies, too (Fountain & Alfred 2009). There are also instruments developed to measure the nurse-patient relationship from patients’ perspective (Suikkala et al. 2009) and to assess the competence of the nurses (Dellai et al. 2009).The measurement tool used in this study was specifically developed for nursing and with nursing teachers and students. As a limitation, the subscales in the measurement tool were short. In fact, it would be useful to develop more valid statements into the subscales. However, based on the results of this study, it is possible to make suggestions regarding suitable learning methods for individual nursing students. We believe that this kind of measurement tool has a place both in students’ peer and self-evaluation, and also in the discussions between supervisors and students when planning learning methods in nursing education.


It is worrying that there are still students in higher education in nursing who are willing to assume an assistant’s role in the field of health care. In the light of this result, it is important to develop teaching and learning methods which are based on the idea of shared learning and improve the students’ self-confidence and development towards expertise in nursing. Moreover, more attention needs to be devoted to learning how to work as a responsible member of a multi-professional team. This should be an important focus in nursing education in the future.
This was the first time that this measurement tool has been used to measure nursing students’ learning approaches in nursing. The measurement tool worked successfully when studying the changes in students’ learning approach in nursing between the 1990s and the 2000s. Furthermore, it could be useful when choosing and developing learning and teaching methods in nursing education in the international scene of higher education. While project-based nursing education, such as learning by developing (Kallioinen 2011) has been established and developed in universities of applied sciences, it would be interesting to study the learning approaches of the students of 2010s.


The authors thank Vivian Michael Paganuzzi, University of Eastern Finland, for his suggestions regarding the language and style of this paper. We are also very grateful to the nurse teachers who have helped us to collect the data, and to the nursing students who participated in our study.


Liisa Vanhanen-Nuutinen, RN, MNSc, PhD, Research Manager, School of Vocational Teacher Education, HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Sirpa Janhonen, RN, MA, PhD, Professor (emerita), Institute for Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Finland

Maija Maunu, RN, MNSc, Lecturer, Degree Program in Nursing, School of Health and Social Care, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Helena Laukkala, M.A., Lecturer,Department of Research Methodology, University of Lapland, Finland

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