P. Dickinson, P. Haavisto

Laurea University (FINLAND)
The purpose of this paper is to describe and assess both practically and academically the educational value and impact of an undergraduate business management degree programme. This is from the point of view of the effect on its students and the University as an organization managing innovation. This study is focused on Laurea, Hyvinkaa`s (LH) campus and its approach and response to filling the “business reality gap”. That is between traditional educational methods and business reality through the use of its unique Peer to Peer(P2P) educational model and technology within Laurea University`s overall Learning by Development (LbD)Method.

This is a qualitative methodological approach related to the assessment of the study experience and the filling of the “business reality gap” through projects with actual companies and theoretical learning (without formal lectures)assisted by technology.Specifically the attainment of 5 core competences of this LbD method (ethical,reflective,networking,innovative and globalization),through participation in the degree programme for one semester. Student feedback via in-depth interviews form the basis for the study which provides empirical findings from exchange students from different countries (Latvia,Lithuainia,Portugal,Russia and Spain) who participated in the Finnish study.

The data collected indicates that all 5 competences to a higher or lower extent were overwhelmingly attained by the students who participated in the study. It also indicates that such an approach to learning brings a positive effect on students’ perceptions of the education process and a more practical and business oriented one making them more employable. Additionally, that this can be achieved within one semester and by students from different countries which have different educational systems.

The analysis clearly shows that the “business reality gap” can be filled through this P2P model which is a good example of Laurea`s LbD method. The collaborative learning involved fills the traditional educational gap between universities and businesses enabling new methods, innovations and ideas to be created and developed.Technology plays an important role in both connecting players and enhancing research.Both academically and practically this type of model delivers a more employable graduate with more transferable business skills. It also shows that Laurea University as an organisation is initiating innovative ideas and managing them in a successful way solving a problem between real business life and education.