Voices from Experts Voices from Experts: Antero Kivelä

Stars in a spinning motion. Blue-green background.

The blog writer has classified management in three different systemic elements; economic, human capital and marketing management. At the end, the blog writer interpretates the dilemma of the management as a key. In Finland, the Universities of Applied Sciences have important law-stated role in regional development, and this is what guides them to make multiple ways of collaboration between University and industries whether it is public or private sector, or associations.

Antero Kivelä photo.


This blog is based on the interview with Mr Antero Kivelä, who is a business service specialist at the School of Business in JAMK, Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Finland. The topic reflects his views on how systematic management is meaningful in maintaining qualified cooperation as a culture and activity.

Image: Antero Kivelä

Economic management issue

The Universities of Applied Sciences are merely financed by government and owned by regional public sector organizations. However, only part of funding comes from Ministry of Education, and the pressure to increase private funding appears. Universities have project collaboration, which is monetary base in RDI activities. It is different from the business interactions which is made in both free-of-charge and monetary base, and by several staff statuses. In the recent years, there is a need for commercial services as part of teachers’ tasks. Some of the teachers are more active selling their own expertise. But not all staff members should be involved with business collaboration.

When it comes to teacher’s job with the students, some of the teachers still make free-of-charge cooperation with the companies. From the University point of view, it is important to the students gain credits and graduate. A major part of funding is based on studying performance of the students. And at the same time teachers want to create learning environments around the real-time industry cases. It is not always possible to guarantee the quality on the outcomes performed by the students. Therefore, it is easier to cooperate for free-of-charge and using personal networks. However, more monetary base cooperation could be built-in cooperation with businesses relates to the students’ internship and thesis work in which the responsibility is now left to the students. In some industry, the students are paid for their contribution. University staff is then not strongly involved in that relation. These contexts should be managed more systematically.


Human capital management issue

Competence based experts (e.g. teachers) are the core resource in the Universities. At the individual level, co-operation must be voluntary, involving those individuals who are interested in it. Involvement of more staff members with industry collaboration could be done more systematically. Mostly the needs of the industry, i.e. assignments are quite pragmatic and it is needed more ‘feet on the ground’ attitude. The content can be refined into research or taken forward later by the University expert him/herself. University-Industry collaboration emerges typically as personal relationships between university teaching staff and industry representative. Teachers should voluntarily go to work for a while in a partner company since we have good practices in our national school system. Experiencing the social atmosphere deepens cooperation and generates more relationships of trust instead of just mobile calling the companies.


Marketing management issue

Do the companies know about University’s services if they are not visible? Marketing communication may be focused on the degree students’ needs. The Universities may have not a strategy for corporate marketing at all – no capacity or budget either. The partnership model of cooperation is a relevant practical concept with the several valued levels. The University should communicate about its partners to the public. The most of them would be proud to be associated with the University. The same goes with alumni, who also represents the link from the University to industry.

Customer brings money in the industry, and therefore CRM (customer relation management) program is typically in use. In this case, organization has the ownership of the relations. In the Universities, it is relevant support service investment. It should be strategically used by all the staff members that are involved in business cooperation. It is challenging to manage customer relationships which are owned by a person instead of organization. How many is willing to use connections from their own network in the benefit of their employer? Clear goals, motives and role models for CRM use is needed. Additionally, the organization needs persons with the mandates: It should be one customer relationship (CR) manager who would coordinate University-Industry collaboration with the business service specialists of all units. Then there should be a budget for these activities. CR manager discusses with management the needs of cooperation, and would be in charge of media relations. The decision-making power in practice has to be downsized to coordination in order to avoid random or a case-by-case activities.


In a nutshell

Based on the views of the interviewee, it will also lead to ethical questions in the management need. For example, when there is no shared rule for cooperation as either monetary base or free-of-charge, it reflects unequal activities in the eyes of industry and also amongst the University staff as well as the students. It is required having systematic management structure, practices and rules whenever it concerns University-Industry relationships. This should concern also ethical reasoning. The role of the Universities seems to be important when it is a talk about management education as very attractive product to be sold to external markets. Therefore, one can express the following dilemma: The University representative is competent to educate industry management, but then also University management in practice should be qualified enough in credibility matter.


Author: Minna Tunkkari-Eskelinen

Minna Tunkkari-Eskelinen (Ph.D) works as Principal Lecturer at JAMK University of Applied Sciences. In her teaching, she integrates tourism industry relations in many ways, and she also makes research together with the students and also interpretates research results to entrepreneurs with whom she also works.


Blog editors: Alexandra Zinovyeva (UIIN) and Fleur Schellekens (UIIN)


Header photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash