Chapter 12 The Incomplete PDCA Cycle in the Research, Development and Innovation Activities at a Finnish UAS

In: Sustaining the Future of Higher Education
Lotta Linko
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Mervi Friman
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Anne Laakso
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Quality management, systems and evaluations have had an increasing role in the delivery of Higher Education (HE) during the last decades. Europe, as a common higher education area, has pushed to unify higher education systems and activities in which quality management is a relevant method of improvement. The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle is widely implemented in higher education institutes. At Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK), the PDCA cycle is applied and the quality system covers all areas and all functions.

External audits and evaluations from two decades have provided five recurring development items for HAMK Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) activities: customer feedback utilisation, RDI communications, customer relations management, stakeholder cooperation, and internal cooperation and co-creation. In the mentioned topics, the PDCA cycle stops at the ‘plan’ or ‘act’ sections. There are three possible explanations for the gaps:

  1. Actions have not been taken. This is evidenced by the case of customer feedback utilisation.
  2. Actions have been taken, but they have not been successful, and the lessons learned have not been fully utilised. The case of CRM projects demonstrates this.
  3. Actions have been taken, but they have not been visible to stakeholders. This is evidenced by the case of the reorganisation of corporate communications.

We are interested in this phenomenon in the framework of quality culture: Is there a mismatch between the quality system and quality culture? And what is the role of everyday quality work? In this article, we delve into these questions by examining the shortcomings. Within the five development themes, this study illustrates in more detail three different cases of attempted improvement as a process of the quality system: (1) HAMK’s CRM system implementation projects, (2) the organisation of corporate communications and (3) joint, thematic workshops facilitated by support functions. In the frame of quality culture, it is necessary to ask if these three actions are convergent with the RDI actors’ assumption about the concept of ‘quality’ or if there is ambiguity between quality system, quality culture and quality work.

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Introduction Sustainability of Higher Education in Uncertain Times
Chapter 1 Sustaining the European Higher Education Area
Chapter 2 Striving for Research Excellence by Understanding Institutional Rationalities
Chapter 3 When Excellence Meets Relevance
Chapter 4 Student Driven Innovations
Chapter 5 Experiences of Academic Leadership in Ireland 2008–2014
Chapter 6 Using Innovative Observation to Improve Teaching and Learning
Chapter 7 Using Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) for Building Youth Consciousness on Democracy in Everyday Life (DIEL) in India
Chapter 8 Linkages between Academic Culture and Management in Polish Higher Education
Chapter 9 Exploring the Impact of Student Mobility and Extracurricular Engagement on Academic Performance and Graduate Outcomes
Chapter 10 Can the New COVID-19 Normal Help to Achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4?
Chapter 11 The Roles of Higher Education Managers in Germany
Chapter 12 The Incomplete PDCA Cycle in the Research, Development and Innovation Activities at a Finnish UAS
Chapter 13 Organisational Change in Student Affairs


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