P. Tossavainen

Laurea University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
There is a rich research tradition and an ample literature of university – industry (U/I) relationships. The interaction with working life, the activities, the benefits and the barriers, the implications, and the relationships between universities and industry in various disciplines are common (Walsh et al 1997; Harryson et al 2007; Jongbloed et al 2008; Deschamps et al 2013). Initiatives for collaboration exist around the world (Britto et al 2013; Deschamps et al 2013). Yet, majority of this literature is focused on a specific interaction between firms and universities. Scarce are investigations focusing on University - Public Sector relationships.

Public Sector organizations differ significantly from business organizations. Their role in society is often legally defined, state government funded, and politically guided. Their management and organization, performance time-span, effectiveness requirements, conflict of interests, and relationships within the society stand out substantially from those of the private business enterprises. The role of these government agencies in societies is significant. With aging population, sustainability issues, high speed of technology development, and constant internet and telecommunication (ICT) provided opportunities, these organizations also face the need for development and reform. Furthermore, they also are large-scale employers with growing need of the latest knowledge.

In Europe, the conventional (science) universities aim to work in cooperation with the surrounding society. Science universities also aim to position themselves within the core of global competition and act as an active interaction node (Markkula & Lappalainen 2009). However, the universities of applied sciences (UAS) have from the beginning adopted a more practical approach and educate professionals in response to labor market needs and promote regional development. Similarly, they research activities are generally geared to the applied research and based on the development needs of the working life.

This paper focuses on the relationship of a university and a public sector organization. It describes the experiences of Laurea UAS and Tax Administration relationship. Tax revenue is the public sector’s most significant source of income. The Tax Administration (of Finland) collects the majority of Finnish taxes and tax-like charges to enable society to function. Furthermore, Tax Administration provides tax service for businesses, organizations, and individuals. From the customer service point of view, Tax Administration aims to collect the right tax at the right time without the threat of penalty.

The purpose of this paper is to provide an insight into multifaceted collaborative relationship. The evolutionary perspective in the relationship is taken. The stages of the relationships development are provided. The paper aims to investigate the institutionalization path of the relationship and to develop a framework for leveraging the high potential of the collaborative University -Public Sector relationships. Applying practice-theoretical approach, this paper investigates how the relationships can be transformed from dyadic personal relations to collaborative actions. The goal of this exploratory paper is to advocate university – public sector collaboration.