Vaasan yliopiston opinnäytteet

Filosofinen tiedekunta, 2015

Payer, Annamária

Developing quality in higher education management: The case of the University of Vaasa

Ohjaaja/Valvoja (DI):
Ari Salminen
Hallintotieteiden maisteri
Master's Degree Programme in Intercultural Studies in Communication and Administration
Tutkielman kieli:
The research topic of quality management (QM) originates from the private sector literature. For a long time in the production industry, developing high-quality products has been a strategy of winning the competition on the market. The use of the managerial tools developed in the private sector, however, becomes problematic in the QM of service delivery, specifically in the context of public service delivery, because the public sector needs to perceive the democratic values of participation and citizenship in addition to the private sector values of efficiency and productivity.

This study investigates the process of developing quality in higher education that should be pioneer in developing successful QM through its key role of connecting the community to knowledge during the process of social interaction. The theoretical problem of QM in the public sector is based on the challenge of developing common quality perspectives of the different organisational stakeholders throughout the diverse phases of the QM process. Maintaining academic freedom and collaboration of the organisational stakeholders, as well as a strong commitment to quality culture are the basis of the QM model in the higher education, which enables improved quality outcomes and continuous quality development of organisational processes in the changing political, social and economic environment.

This study follows a qualitative research design, in which the main research methodology is documentary analysis. The empirical analysis investigates the process of QM as a part of the management and operations management system in the case of a Finnish institution of higher education, the University of Vaasa.

The findings show that QM can be incorporated into the management and operations management systems of higher education institution, which enables a holistic approach towards the topic of quality development in higher education management. Creating a quality work group with representative members of the various organisational stakeholders provides a solution to involve them in the process of designing quality policy and defining common quality targets of the university. Furthermore, acting according to norms and being committed to quality in the daily routines creates an organisational culture, which is open to maintain and develop the quality of organisational processes and operations at the higher education institution. The most important tool of direction, which enables the collaboration of the various groups of organisational stakeholders is sustaining open communication. Furthermore, supporting human interaction and collegial decision-making enables the organisation to solve quality-related problems in collaboration with its external and internal stakeholders. Finally, the most efficient methods of quality evaluation are the internal feedback system of the organisation and external audits. Involving the organisational stakeholders in the quality evaluation of organisational processes requires, however, a working feedback system.

It can be concluded that high-quality organisational outputs and continuous development of long-term quality outcomes can be enabled if QM is a common mission of the various organisational stakeholders.
Quality Management, Higher Education, Continuous Quality Development
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