17.07.2018

Quality management is an important part of academic strategic management

Quality management is a significant part of my work as the Dean of Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics (JSBE). Business and Economics are among the first fields to develop their own internal quality assurance. In this extensive branch of science, you can find all sorts of education providers worldwide. That is why we need to define basic guidelines for high-quality research and education in business and economics.

Various international standards are currently used in business and economics, and eligible universities can apply for accreditation accordingly. Accreditation is a field-specific quality label: a sign for applicants, students, researchers and staff that the business school meets the basic agreed-upon requirements for high-quality activities.

In compliance with the vision defined in its strategy, JSBE pursues the three globally most significant accreditations in business and economics. They would place us among the small group of the world’s most renowned business schools. JSBE was already granted the AMBA accreditation for its MBA education in 2011. 

We are in the final stage of the AACSB Accreditation Process: following about five years of our goal-oriented work, the AACSB Accreditation Review Team will come to Jyväskylä for three days in early October, at which point they will decide on the accreditation. AACSB accreditation covers all the activities of JSBE, in both research and education. Once we have the AACSB accreditation, we intend to focus on pursuing the European EQUIS accreditation, the last part of the ‘triple crown’.

I see quality management as an integral part of strategic management. It is not a separate task, but based on the objectives and tasks the organisation has committed to in its strategy. Quality management should support the achievement of these objectives. It ensures that the organisation has the tools, knowledge, skills and resources needed to achieve its goals. A clear division of responsibilities is also part of good quality management.

At universities, quality management means in practice that, for example, students have clear personal study plans, degrees have precisely defined learning outcomes, students receive guidance to support their study plans, and the assessment of studies is consistent, transparent and justified. In research, the peer reviewing of research results and publications is part of the academic community’s own quality assurance, similar to the qualification evaluation practices used in recruitment.

At its best, quality management facilitates the everyday work of the university community. It helps to make common goals visible and harmonises workplace practices in areas where needed in order to ensure high-quality operations. Contrary to popular belief, quality management does not call for the definition of all ways of working and small details. However, it is important to agree on common rules for issues that are significant for the quality of operations and the achievement of results.

Quality management does not restrict academic freedom at the university. Also from the perspective of quality management, research and teaching definitely allow for alternative topics and implementations, as well as creativity, provided that the essential, jointly agreed-upon basics are ensured.

Hanna-Leena Pesonen, Dean of Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics