Collaborating in Course Design

How the Karlstad Business School worked with industry to create a new program.

The Karlstad Business School in Sweden is taking steps to make sure its new engineering and management master’s program will meet the needs of corporations and other employers. The new program will be closely linked to CTF, the Service Research Center at the university, which specializes in research on value creation through service. The program is also receiving support from the Swedish Knowledge Foundation, which funds research and competence development at Sweden’s universities to strengthen the country’s competitiveness.

CTF research will act as a cornerstone for the new program, say school officials. Faculty who are developing the program are all affiliated with CTF and will draw from previous and ongoing research projects, as well as their own expertise, to develop the curriculum. In the process, “we build links to other activities going on in CTF,” says Antti Sihvonen, project leader and lecturer in business administration at Karlstad Business School. “This project is not an island on its own, but part of a larger whole.”

The new program will be designed for engineers who are managing innovation and service development. It will cover topics such as entrepreneurship, sales management, and the digitalization of business. To make sure the new courses match the needs of employers, the program developers are working with companies such as Tetra Pak, a global provider of package solutions; Voestalpine, a technology and capital goods group; CGI, an IT and business consultancy; and Löfbergs, a coffee roasting company. The industry partners have contributed to the design of both individual courses and the overall program.

Ongoing dialogue is the key to success when it comes to building connections between researchers and practitioners, says Sihvonen. “A balance must be achieved between practical needs, which the companies can pinpoint; program planning, which allows different parts of the program to work together as a coherent whole; and the incorporation of research into the coursework, which helps students understand different issues.” The new program will debut in 2020.