Business engagement – a romantic notion or the future?

The view of the academic sitting in their ivory tower still exists  although many of us are trying hard to remove the tarnished legacy of this, to move to a more wholesome image of working together with industry and academics as professionals, bonding harmoniously over projects, solutions, outcomes, knowledge transfer… the list goes on. A romantic notion or the future? We would believe the latter. Working with industry, forging stronger relationships with companies and delivering mutually beneficial outcomes is a win-win.

University of Bradford School of Management lecturers

Dr Liz Breen and Dr Olga Matthias

The University of Bradford School of Management has a solid reputation in engaging with business in many ways, none more so than the Operations and Information Management Group. How could we not? We research in and teach about managing businesses as operations so we are experts in this area. This makes us the group  companies approach when in need.

So how do we do it? What can we offer a business and vice versa? In recent conversations with businesses we raised a number of ways in which we could work together which could lead to enhanced business performance, enhanced teaching materials, real-time business knowledge exchange and hopefully, graduate recruitment. This led us to produce this list of options available to businesses:

  • Mini case studies to incorporate into taught tutorial sessions which would use your company as an example of a service provider, focusing on the company as a whole or specific element of it.
  • More extended case studies that could be used as a form of assessment (group or individual assignment offering direct feedback on the subject matter). This would be more applicable for final year undergraduates or postgraduate students.
  • Guest speakers – to attend and speak to students on a given aspect of the business.
  • Masters/MBA projects which take place May-Sept each year.
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, for which we also offer funding support.
  • Mentoring – either individual or organisational, strategic or tactical.

All of the above can be utilised at all levels of teaching/research supervision in our programmes. Some would deliver more limited response/feedback to the company e.g. guest speaker, but would be informative for our students especially those starting on their management journey. Others such as the Masters/MBA projects would offer more extended detailed insight into business based on the project specification.

The staff within the Operations and Information Management Group as part of the Faculty of Management and Law aim to demolish the ‘ivory tower’ image of academics of old and present the fresh approach of a united professional/collegial partnership as opposed to academic/industry partnership. It is the way forward, it is the future.