Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, Special Issue, 1150-115 7
Published Online October 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Collaborative Regional Development and Research in Higher
Education: In the Perspective of Quality in a University of
Applied Sciences
Rauno Pirinen
Laure University of Applied Sciences, E spoo , Finland
Email: rau n o
Received August 30th, 2012; revised September 2 6th, 2012; accepted Octo ber 13th, 2012
Together universities and universities of applied sciences (UASs) form the higher education system as a
dual model in Finland. In this setting, there are three statutory tasks for (UAS): 1) education; 2) research
and development (R&D); and 3) regional development. In this continuum of research, the overall research
question is: How can the regional development be understood, designed, defined and actualised in UAS?
This study presents the case study analysis that addresses the actualisation of regional development task in
the perspective of quality assurance. The analysis includes systematic and empirical data collection and
evaluation of quality systems by the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council between 2002 and
2012. Here, the repositioning of innovation-driving industry and services, UAS, and government relations
take place in quality assurance. The focus is on the reconsideration of the quality system due to innovation
networks, co-created innovations, the contributions of lead innovations and reg iona l development that ha s an
impact on social and global improvement. The purpose is that a quality assurance and assessments are vi-
tal for regional R&D, participator’s co-creations, creativity, and regional-international R&D collaboration.
Keywords: Action Research; Case Study Analysis; Co-Creation; Collaborative Regional Development;
Higher Education; Innovation-Driving Industry and Services; Lead Innovations; Quality
Assurance System; Regional Capabilities
This qualitative analysis investigates how the regional de-
velopment can be understood, designed, defined and actualized
in UASs and in the perspective of quality. The context of study
is in regional development of Laurea UAS and the perspective
of study is in quality, in such views as: challenges and advances
of quality assurance; quality management; quality system; and
quality concepts. In the background of study, there is the col-
lectively developed integrative model at Laurea UAS between
2003 and 2012. Here, the integrative model refers to the stu-
dent-centered integration of higher education, research and
development (R&D) and regional development in the viewpoint
of actualizations of study units with funded R&D projects and
within regional R&D actors such as regional innovation system
and clusters (Porter, 1990; Doloreux & Parto, 2005; Cooke,
2004; Teräs, 2008 ). The purpose of this analysis is in im-
provements, challenges and advances of regional development
within collaborative R&D activities in the context of UAS, and
the study investigates the integrative concepts in regional view-
points of changes in professional growth, regional strategy and
R&D. The unit of analysis is a sample of evidence in UAS
where the emphasis is on the phenomenon of regional R&D.
The same unit of analysis was also used in all evaluation trans-
actions, since 2003, and then as a continuum, it complements
this analysis. The context consists of actualizations of master,
bachelor and degree education in programmes of information
systems, security management and services; the outcomes of
the analysis are available for the possible dissemination to the
higher education domain.
Setting of Study
This study includes continuums of the five earlier studies, of
which includes four reviewed conference articles and one dou-
ble reviewed journal article, which combine the background
work of this analysis (Pirinen, 2008; Pirinen, 2009a; Pirinen,
2009b; Pirinen, Tarkkanen, & Teräs, 2009; Pirinen, 2012). In
this article, the results of the case study analysis that addresses
the actualisation concepts of regional development in the per-
spective of quality assurance systems are thoroughly described.
The article includes four parts: 1) analysis of context as intro-
duction, rationale of study, and description of domain ontology;
2) explanation of operational environment; 3) resonance of
theories; and finally 4) the concept of evaluation design. The
analysis includes systematic and empirical data collection, and
in addition, the evaluation data of quality assurance systems by
the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (FINHEEC)
between 2007 and 2011 is included. Then, this analysis be-
tween August, 2007 and December, 2010 addresses the Evalua-
tion of Quality Assurance System (Lampelo et al., 2010) and
empirical data collection between 2003 and 2012. The analysis
is based on (Patton, 1990; Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Miles &
Huberman, 1994 ; Robson, 2002; Corbin & Straus, 2008). Then,
this research is as continuum of earlier action research, which is
described in (Pirinen, 2009a), and then the form of this research
is a case study analysis as it extends the continuum of multiple
case study analysis ( Eisenhardt, 1998; Gummesson, 2000; Ge-
orge & Bennett, 2005 ; Gerring, 2007; Yin, 2009).
Perspective of Quality
The perspective of quality in the context of this study con-
sists of six entities: 1) the internal validity refers to a newly
created concept in the actualizations, both parallel and along-
side the analyses and methods, models, and new processes; the
objective is in ensuring that the new concepts and models are
logical, authentic and internally valid in the perspective of ac-
tualisations and information systems, security and the service,
as well as suitable to the context of UAS. In this study, the
concepts of management, quality assurance process and the-
matic curriculum are described; 2) the construct validity refers
to the correct operational measures for the theme being studied;
then, the view of construct validity is addressed to the extent
“what was to be measured was actually measured” or “does it
measure what you think it measures”, in this, the concept of
evaluation design is presented; 3) the related quality terms au-
thenticity and the transparency of data displays refers to par-
ticipators’ thinking and new ideas to emerge, new models, new
services and new information systems; in this, the actualiza-
tion process is seen as continuum of strategy-process-result-
impacts and its feedback as a) development by success; b)
learning by failure; c) development by feedback; 4) in turn, the
terms reliability, dependability, or auditability refers to demon-
strating that the operations of a study, such as the data
collection procedures and R&D interventions can be repeated
with the same results; in this study, the quality assurance proc-
ess and data collections, such as the follow and evaluation data
of UASs (AMKOTA), are referenced; 5) as well in this view,
there is a real sense of objectivity such as: the quality-system-
based data which is gained directly from the practice, then it is
not tainted or manipulated by the perspectives, biases, de-
fences, or experience of participators or other facilitators; then,
the samples of evidence are gathered from the concrete evi-
dence and partially from the reality that came from the partici-
pators’ experience, bringing their assumptions, views, thinking,
beliefs, trust, and spirit out with the collective reflection of the
data; and the last quality term 6) utilization of the concepts, as
the guidance models and an action logic of quality with imple-
mentation of regional development and globalization to every-
day learning, development, and research activities in UAS re-
fers to the utility of new artifacts, services and methodologies.
Reasoning of General Conception of Quality
The higher education institution is seen as producers of new
knowledge and competences, and users of the latest findings
and bodies of knowledge in action, which gives them a role
within the “thematic core of the regional innovation system”.
Their thematic nature comes from their operative action in
combining knowledge from several sources, such as lead inno-
vation systems, or institutions such as strategic centers of ex-
cellence in science, technology and information and communi-
cation technology (ICT) innovations. Certainly, with regional
and mutual collaboration in UASs, a body of knowledge is
co-created with other organizations to contribute to innovations
in industry and society (Pirinen, 2008), e.g. national strategic
research agendas (SRA). Then, in this study, the general con-
ception of quality, when formulated in terms of the outcome of
inquiry and activity, has something important to say regarding
the meaning of inquiry, analysis, activity and domain ontology
itself, as well as continuum of previous studies (Pirinen, 2008,
2009a, 2009b; Pirinen, Tarkkanen, & Teräs, 2009; Pirinen,
In starting, the actualization of respectable quality faces
challenges and opportunities due to shared networked expertise
and the integration of a knowledge society and R&D activities.
That statement includes the following contestable issues as
triggers of change in UASs, founded from data alongside of
data collection since 2003. 1) the regional development task is
agreed and actualized in UASs as the third statutory task; 2) the
role of external R&D-based funding is growing and a relative
amount of government-based funding is decreeing in UASs;
and 3) more shape profiles of UASs and R&D studies are
needed due to different requirements of regional capabilities,
professional growth and welfare in the region, in similar ways
which are described more detail in (Pirinen, 2012; Rauhala,
As a consequence of this: 1) a commissioned discursion and
power is changing into a co-creative and value-based discursion
and power; then 2) the assumption is that an action in UASs
would be based on results and impacts in the region and its
continuums, trust, responsibility and retentions as the Triple
Helix (Pirinen, Tarkkanen, & Teräs, 2009); 3) UASs would be
involved in co-creative and trust-based discursions and R&D
activities in the region; then 4) the role of students of higher
education is changing, rather to co-creators of new knowledge
and competence than consumers of knowledge in the region; 5)
due to the close integration of workplaces and the UAS, an
action primarily bridges competences in the first place which
produces a new way of using knowledge in action; and 6) in a
general sense, external funding is needed to ensure the fulfill-
ment of the three tasks.
In addition: 7) a competition is increasing for the recruitment
of students and talent between higher education institutions and
global networked actors; 8) higher education institutions have
different emphases, and they are regionally profiled according
to co-created regional R&D strategy and strategy-based profiles;
then 9) higher education institutions are collaborators in con-
tributing to the regional innovation system and regionally
nested clusters and knowledge reserves in the region; then 10)
higher education institutions particularly keep co-creation and
innovation processes alive through regional, national and global
interactions, as trigger, driver and enabler to collaboration; 11)
as a role, higher education institutions are co-incubators of
entrepreneurial skills and value makers for new competences
and involved in sharing of activities in emergent value net-
works; then 12) regional interaction collaborates Student-Cen-
tered R&D in inter-operative ways and shares the regional-na-
tional R&D capabilities and interests. In this union, as fulfill-
ment of respect; 13) the quality assurance systems would in-
clude more or less networked results, impacts, consequences
and analysis of over regional actors and the UAS itself.
Brief to Context and Its Domain Ontology
In this operational environment, the term “quality” is under-
stood as the suitability of procedures and systems in relation to
strategic objectives; then the achievement of objectives is as-
sessed though the evaluation areas specified in the Strategy
Implementation Plan. In turn, the term “quality assurance” con-
sists of procedures, processes and systems used to guarantee
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 1151
and improve the quality operations. The “quality assurance” is
carried out using jointly defined, operation-enhancing and ap-
propriate procedures, methods and tools. In this, the term
“quantitative research” can be handled numerically; these num-
bers are interpreted and described through qualitative lenses,
where “qualitative research” is a method that examines people’s
world or action in a descriptive way; representing the experi-
ences of people involved (Patton, 1990; Robson, 2002).
This context also provides insights into the interpretation of
the term “innovation” in this regional collaboration and opera-
tional environment. Starting from Schumpeter’s (1939), five
meanings of the term “ innovation” were: new goods, new
processes, new markets, new sources of supply of new materi-
als, or a new organizational status. Tichy (1998) relates that
“innovation is as organizational capability which includes:
scientific; technological; socioeconomic and even cultural as-
pects.” Geffen and Judd (2004) advocate and extend that “the
successes of commercialization and commercialized advantages
are major determinant of innovation.” As used in this study,
Galanakis (2006) proposed a broader definition for the term
“ innovation”: “the creation of new products; processes; knowl-
edge or services by using new or existing scientific or tech-
no-logical knowledge, which provides a degree of novelty
either to: the developer; the industrial sector; the nation or the
world; or to succeed in the market place.”
The related term “lead innovation” is often based on novel
technologies or new services, which are targeted at value- added
chains with great economic potential (Pirinen, 2008; Etzkowitz
& Leydesdorff, 1998 ). The lead innovations are described in a
variety of features such as: 1) positive effect on economic
growth and employment; 2) orientation toward value-added
chains with high economic potential; 3) the creation of new
jobs and the strengthening of the innovative potential of Indus-
try; 4) enhancing strengths; 5) conquering new markets; 6)
orientation toward social demands; 7) networking and cluster-
ing of present and future activities; 8) completed projects and
infrastructure; and 9) risk assessment (Porter, 1990, 1998; Etz-
kowitz & Leydesdorff, 1998 ; Harmaakorpi, 2004; Teräs, 2008).
According to Harmaakorpi (2004), the five “regional capa-
bilities” in this operational platform would be: 1) leadership
capability; 2) visionary capability; 3) learning capability; 4)
networking capability; and 5) innovative capability. Here, the
term “capability” refers to the power and ability to do some-
thing, e.g. as the regional capabilities to in-crease the produc-
tivity of a region. In the actualizations of study units, the inte-
gration includes clusters (Porter, 1990; Teräs, 2008) and re-
gional innovation systems (Doloreux & Parto, 2004; Cooke,
2004 ). Doloreux and Parto (2004) state that the concept of a
regional innovation system is understood as a set for integrating
public and private interests, formal institutions and organiza-
tions, as well as relationships for conducting generation and
dissemination of new knowledge. Cooke (2004) defines a re-
gional innovation system: it consists of integrating knowledge
generation and exploitation to other regional, national and
global systems for commercializing new knowledge. According
to Cooke, “It is limited in scenes of geographical existing, as
well as meaning of regional was related as nested territorially
Operative Environment
As in the above reasoning, the task of regional development
was understood to be one of the main tasks of the Finnish
UASs (Rauhala, 2008; Pirinen, 2008; Kallioinen, 2007). In
education and research, a “third task” was added (Finnish Act,
351/2003), involving services for communities’ regional de-
velopment. The outreaches are then: co-creation of innovative
activities; knowledge transformation; and bringing the concepts
of science and innovation closer to citizens by Living Labs and
Regional Innovation Systems (Pirinen, 2012). In this view, a
knowledge society creates shares and uses knowledge for the
well-being of its people (Pirinen, 2008). Creating competence
and professional growth takes place by using a body of know-
ledge in action (Pirinen 2008; Nunamaker et al., 1990-91). In
this collaboration, the term “networked expertise” refers to
competences that arise from social interaction, knowledge
sharing, and collective problem-solving, and it is embedded in
the shared competence of communities and organized groups of
experts and professionals.
As one result of the analysis, cognition and intelligent activ-
ity and knowledge reserves are not limited to an “individual’s
mental and as consumers’ processes”, but also on socio-cultur-
ally developed cognitive tools; this composes a continuum: 1)
individual’s development; 2) organization’s development; and 3)
region’s development. This continuum of professional growth
and R&D collaboration is investigated through quality system.
The Onion Model, as a screen of this actualization and envi-
ronment, is described in Figure 1.
Beginning from the outer edge of the Onion Model, in Fig-
ure 1, the most macro area is represented as “international” or
“global”. The next sphere is environments, as “national” or
“regional”. Next come cluster networks and innovation systems
which include cooperative actors and national and international
R&D projects. Then, finally, at the micro-level, there are
courses as actualization of study units in the thematic contin-
uum, which bridges the regional R&D agenda, strategies, co-
created profiles, R&D activities and quality system to this un-
ion. This operational environment was gradually developed into
an operational model, where Student-Centered R&D integrates
professional growth and lifelong development and learning.
As a next result of the analysis, drawn since 2003, the focus
of globalization shifts from the traditional situation, where stu-
dents moved between work places and universities, into an
R&D agenda, lead and theme-based on joint activities, where
international expertise, as universities share knowledge and
ideas over distance and borders with R&D collaboration as a
pipeline. In this view, UAS focus on the expertise and region-
ally oriented form and profiles of higher education; it cooper-
ates with communities of work and then business, industry and
services, and in the delimited context of this study, their de-
grees are designed to meet the changing and agile requirements
and development needs of the communities of work, having a
clear expertise emphasis and qualifying graduates for various
duties. In the view of quality in the Onion Model, the unit of
analysis, such as sample of evidence, can produce transparency
in continuum of: 1) quality implementation and confirmation; 2)
development of operations and strategies; and 3) research i nteres t,
which links industries, government, academia, finance and
institutions for R&D collaboration.
As a second category of analysis, the operative environment
in case, at Laurea UAS does not have separate R&D units for
actualization of its R&D duty. The R&D activities and actuali-
zation have been strategically integrated with Student-Centered
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Cooperative Actors
Learning Environments
Clu st ers Ne two rk s
Proj ect
Proj ect
Pro j ec t
Livi ng Labs
Global World
Pro j ec t
Proj ect
Pip e li ne
Ex p erti se
Pro j ec t
Pro j ec t
Tea m
Scop e
Regi onal Innova tion Syst em
Cl us ters
(mos t mac r o le ve l)
(micro level)
Figure 1.
The onion model.
R&D, professional growth and integrated learning. Then, this
strategic decision was called to the integrative model since
2003 (Pedagogical Strategy, 2002, 2007; Pirinen, 2008).
Resonance of Theory to Concepts
This part presents the used theories in the collaborative re-
gional development, R&D and education between 2003 and
2011. The theoretical consideration of quality includes: 1) the
Gibbons’ “mode-2” in the perspective of new production of
knowledge and mode of management (Gibbons et al., 2008); 2)
the setting of the linear quality management model and its
theoretical background; 3) the regional development theories
such as the Triple Helix (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 1998); and
then 4) the theoretical groundwork of the thematic curriculum
which bridges strategic R&D agenda, regional profiles and
learning scopes to the continuum of syllabus-curriculum-re-
gional-national-international relations, interactions and studies.
These theoretical viewpoints are utilized in practice and then
empirically tested since 2003. Here, the biggest advantages and
challenges of the used theoretical groundwork are presented.
The targets of this theoretical part are in increasing trustwor-
thiness, understanding and internal validity.
Production of New Knowledge and
Management Modes
There are two suggested management approaches for col-
laborative R&D in view-points of integration and knowledge
co-creation (Gibbons et al., 2008): the disciplinary “mode-1”
and the intellectual “mode-2”. Gibbons’ “mode-1” is based on a
disciplinary setting, where the creativity of an individual is the
driving force of development and is operated through disci-
plinary structures of identifying and improving the management
and that collective perspective. This “mode-1” includes control
aspects as the consensual figure of the scientific community.
Gibbons’ “mode-2” is the intellectual quality setting in man-
agement. Here, the creativity is collective as a group co-crea-
tivity phenomenon with the individual’s contribution. In
“mode-2,” the management is being exercised as a socially
extended process which accommodates a variety of interests in
a process. Gibbons et al. states that these two imperative sys-
tems coexist in the recent and future actualizations of the
knowledge creation processes: 1) “mode-1”, which represents
“the ideas, methods, values and norms that have grown up to
control the diffusion of the Newtonian model of science to
more and more fields of enquiry and ensure its compliance with
what is considered sound scientific practice” (Gibbons et al.,
2008: p. 167); and “mode-2”, meaning “knowledge produc-
tion carried out in the context of application and marked by its:
transdisciplinarity; heterogeneity; organizational heterarchy and
transience; social accountability and reflexivity; and quality
control which emphasizes context and user-dependence; the
results from the parallel expansion of knowledge” (Gibbons et
al., 2008: p. 9). In our view, the term “transdisciplinarity” in-
volves a research strategy that crosses many disciplinary boun-
daries to create a holistic approach; it applies to research efforts
focused on problems or scopes that cross the boundaries of two
or more disciplines, such as research on effective information
systems; the term “transience” describes a temporary or short-
term activity; transient data is a type of data that is relevant for
a limited time period; creative cycles, trials and ideas are often
quick and temporary in nature; and in turn, the related term
“transparency” is allowing actors to see through so that objects
and activities behind can be seen clearly.
As one implied result, the used management model shares
the insider positions and role, as well as participating inten-
sively in the management of R&D and regional collaboration.
This combined leadership and management, as a union of Gib-
bons’ “mode-1” and “mode-2”, affects quality in such as the
planning of R&D agenda, co-creation of regional strategy,
forming of profiles, and leadership of R&D activity. In this case,
the model of management was based on a bottom-up, vision-
based and relationship management model; it was also based on
an orientation and management culture and philosophy, where
the management focus is on variations of power and authority
relations and in the relationship management. The management
model was then suitable for enabling agile scopes in the R&D
and learning processes, so that the ecosystems of different
stakeholders can come up with new creative ideas. The focus of
management was on a co-creative discursion and its power,
such as enablers and eman cip atory activities.
As analyzed guidance from Gibbons et al. to the design of
the quality assurance system: it is noteworthy that future quality
systems, as based on the integration of “mode-1” and “mode-
2”, would include an impact analysis over a region for 1) de-
velopment by success; 2) development by feedback; and 3)
learning by failure. Then, a management and one purpose of
quality policy as “mode-1” is that it does not hinder creativity
in the R&D integration of future and regional development. As
reasoning, an atmosphere and spirit of management would en-
courage, motivate and facilitate active and agile action as
“mode-2” advances; then, in this setting, emergent and creative
activities by internalization and externalization of vital trust and
openness in a transparent culture of management would be
supported by the integration of “mode-2” and “mode-1” (Piri-
nen, Tarkkanen, & Teräs, 2009; Pirinen, 2012).
The future regional collaboration and management model
with externally funded and evaluated R&D also needs greater
flexibility in the future because the amount of different stand-
ards used by various R&D actors, the European Union and
other institutions, are increasing and entering into the collabo-
rative and regional R&D processes. “These standards are re-
quired to be frequently revised, and this change in turn requires
institutional flexibility” (Gibbons et al., 2008: p. 167), ability to
change, and trust-based management (Pirinen, 2008; Pirinen,
2009a; Pirinen, 2009b).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 1153
Concept of Quality Assurance Process
In this case, the rationale of the selection of quality manage-
ment and data collection process model, in the context of study
at Laurea, lays in the fact that there are 500 faculty members,
8000 students, and about 70 co-operators, which are all using
the quality assurance system for data collection, quality imple-
mentation, and confirmation, as well as development and
verification purposes. In the selection process of the quality
assurance and management model, one of the most well-known
and evergreen models was the Deming- Shewhart cycle or Plan-
Do-Check-Act (Shewhart , 1939; Deming, 2000 ), which was con-
sidered to be light enough to use and meaningful for dissemina-
tion and co- operative action; but nevertheless, it was useful and
inter-operative in the context and has views of quality and man-
agement that include vision-strategy-based management and
development. The actualization of quality steps as a quality
assurance process is described in Figure 2.
In the context of this study, the steps of quality assurance are
actualized as: 1) Plan: Planning the activities, i.e. what should
be done, what results should be achieved, and what is necessary
to change in the actualization? This concerns the co-creative
and participative nature of planning and the implementation of
definitions into the design and optimization of the quality sigma;
2) Do: Making the actualization and implementation according
to the plan, actualizing and implementing interests, and co-
operating and participating, as well as generating new know-
ledge from the creation perspective of doing, e.g. the learning
and regional development process; Next, 3) Check: Checking
the activities and the results achieved, which involves deve-
lopment, the research interest, the knowledge creation interest
(e.g. the reviewing of research reports and updating of the syl-
labuses), the implementation of analysis, measurement and
verification interventions in the quality sigma; 4) Act: Acting
systematically; taking into account the observations and results
of the checking, regarding the consequences and especially
implications of the actualization for the next stage and the body
of knowledge, e.g. the binding of new theories and writing of a
draft for the next syllabuses. The Act responds to the question
of management about the continuation of some activity or falsi-
fication as to forward future (Shewhart , 1939; Deming, 2000 ).
Sight of Triple Helix
In the operational environment of study, the professional
Str a t e g i e s
Operational Process es
National and International Operating Environment
Monitoring and Evaluation
Development Implications
Quality Assurance Process
Figure 2.
The quality assurance process.
growth, development and learning activities were based on
understanding, design, building, improving and evaluating ser-
vices, artifacts, methodology and technology that can exist in
an appropriate instance of regional R&D concentrations, which
are often extended outside of traditional classrooms. This view-
point includes living labs as schools which collaborate with
R&D institutions and Strategic Centre of Science (SHOKS)
with industry, the service sector and government. This sight is
known as the Triple Helix (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 1998;
Etzkowitz et al., 2000). The focus of the co-creative Triple
Helix would be on the creativity and innovations which are
produced through the dynamics of interactions and communica-
tions among academia, industry, and government and on the
social mechanisms of selection, variation, and retention res-
ponsible for their evolution as sectors. In our view, the objec-
tive of actualization of the Triple Helix model was to realize an
environment with innovativeness, consisting of UAS and uni-
versity spin-offs and initiatives for knowledge-based economic
development, and strategic alliances between the actors of the
regional Triple Helix (Pirinen, Tarkkanen, & Teräs 2009; Pi-
rinen, 2009a).
The setting of quality actualization is in furthering the re-
gional development, competence-based competitive assets and
spinning up entrepreneurship in student-centered professional
growth. This view of collective learning focuses a student’s
own and collaborative creations, which effects as thematic
scopes and are related to the strategic focuses of region and
actualised as nested within regional clusters and innovation
system (Doloreux & Parto, 2004; Cooke, 2004; Fränti & Piri-
nen, 2005 ).
As orientation to quality actualization and development: ac-
cording to Finland’s National Innovation Strategy (2008), the
four basic selections are: 1) innovation activity in a world
without borders, active Finnish participation and considerable
influence in global knowledge networks, as well as its citizens’
high international mobility and the country’s attractiveness
relative to globally leading alternative locations for innovative
activity; 2) demand and user orientation as a basis for innova-
tive activity, better attendance of customers’, consumers’, and
citizens’ needs and a higher involvement of users in innovation
processes; 3) individuals and communities creating innovations,
providing better abilities and more incentives for individuals
and entrepreneurs to innovate; and 4) systemic approach—in-
terdependence of success factors; more broad-based innovative
activity promoting renewal and structural changes.
Concept of Thematic Curriculum
As a continuum of the quality assurance process, the term
“thematic” is addressed to the continuum of syllabus-curricu-
lum- regional-national-international relations. The thematic region,
thematic living-labs, novel R&D activities, thematic curriculum,
and thematic actualizations of study units have corresponding
interests in the R&D agenda. This refers to students’ learning
being related to a body of dynamic and agile themes for
thematic studies, which are important to regional, societal, and
innovation systems. In this inter-operative way, research areas
of the R&D agenda and a regional innovation system interact
with the generation of new competences and regional capabili-
ties in the actualizations of UASs.
This logic and steps of the thematic actualizations are de-
scribed in Figure 3 which is located to the end of this chapter.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
The first step of actualization in Figure 3, after co-created
strategy consists of traits and characteristics that constitute the
foundation for learning and collaborative R&D and represent
the natural form of individual student or groups of students,
where further experiences can be co-created. Differences in
personalities and characteristics explain why people follow
different development and learning experiences and ideas, as
well as acquire different levels and kinds of skills, abilities and
The second step consists of skills, knowledge and compe-
tences, which are developed through R&D-based learning
experiences, broadly defined to include work and participation
in community affairs and innovation systems. In this, scaffold-
ing is a supporting process or structure for learning or training
something that is already known, e.g. training of competences,
sharing of knowledge, model-based learning and training. The
competences within different contexts require different bundles
of skills and knowledge, and demonstrations are the mid-range
results of applying and proofing of competences.
The integration of learning and collaborative R&D particu-
larly challenges assessment. A student may have a genuine
workplace competence assessment setting in slightly different
ways, depending on the context, which requires teachers to
have a collective familiarity of competence for assessment,
prominent as well as a self-, group- and sample-based assess-
ment would be used for recognizing of lessons to be learnt. This
is illustrated in check-proof of-evaluation part of Figure 3. The
one advantage of thematic curriculum is that strategy of UAS
becomes active part when it co-creates and decides R&D pro-
files with other regional R&D actors. The R&D profiles ad-
dresses on what UAS can explore and experiment with changes
in how it can compose and react to internal and regional R&D
demands. This setting improves: 1) an expanded R&D collabo-
ration in region; 2) extending funding base on UAS; 3) regional
motivation of R&D scopes; 4) an integrated trust and spirit of
Triple Helix in region.
Concept of Evaluation Design
In light of evaluation steps and quality, there is no easy and
single way of determining construct validity in collaborative
R&D activities as stated in (Patton, 1990; Miles & Huberman,
1994; Robson, 2002; Corbin & Straus, 2008). Here, the con-
Stra t e gi e s
Operating Environment: Regional Innovation System
Foundation: Student-Centred Learning, Research and Development
Proof of
Curric u lum
Asse ssm e nt
Thematic P rocess
Quality Assurance Process
Figure 3.
The concept of thematic curriculum.
struct validity refers to the correct operational measures for the
theme being studied. The view of construct validity is ad-
dressed to the extent “does it measure what you think it mea-
sures” as (Robson, 2002) asked. In this study, the analysed
framework that “what was to be measured” is presented in form
of categories and continuums in Figure 4.
This proposal to future Evaluation Design of actualizations
includes both qualitative and quantitative data (AMKOTA) as
which would be interpreted in forms of 1) new start-ups; 2)
results; 3) direct impacts; impacts of R&D activity after 3 - 5
years (a); indirect impacts (b); and iterative feedback (f) in
Figure 4. Then, further R&D of a “higher region” measure
instruments and forecasts of proactive regional capabilities are
required. The current result estimations and measures, which
are related to R&D and regional development are mainly de-
fined, maintained and co-created by the Ministry of Education
and Culture and network of UASs. In this domain, the AM-
KOTA is the statistical data base containing fundamental data
of UAS activities. The statistics of completed credits are com-
piled by calendar year and by field of education. Completed
credits have been completed with a passing grade in youth and
adult education, leading to a bachelor’s degree and education
leading to a master’s degree. The data of AMKOTA are re-
quested directly from UAS and obtained from Statistic Finland .
The AMKOTA database is administered by the Ministry of
Education and Culture. Here, the strength of the construct va-
lidity addresses the statistical nature of the analyzed units, such
as: the theses which are based on projects or R&D, the publica-
tion number produced, and the external funding of R&D. In this
analysis, the one identified weakness of construct validity lies
in the estimation nature of used analyzed units, such as the
number of credits completed in R&D, which one is the crite-
rion-based estimation in actualization by teachers; however, it
is useful in the perspective of motivation and dissemination of
R&D and regional development in UASs.
The analysis also has significant implications for further re-
search, the development of multiple methods in multiple envi-
ronments “over actors of a region” or “from discursions and
forums to federation” for the measuring of impacts, which are
described as circles (a-b) in Figure 4, because the impacts
would exist in actualization, research environment, working life
or regional-societal networks, and during the time of actualiza-
tion of study unit or long after that. Measuring of the impacts
(a-b) is useful in perspectives of: 1) development by success; 2)
development by feedback (f); and 3) learning by failure.
In this evaluation design, the one ontological finding for the
future is the promising and relatively new key term a “quality
robe”. It is drawn for human-centered ways of information
gathering about the students- and users-centered approaches. In
this, quality screen, the “quality robe(s)” would be as instances
of the design robes, such as approach to user-centered design
for understanding human phenomena and exploring design
opportunities; the probes are explorative, design-oriented and
based on self-documenting; they aim at revealing users’ per-
sonal perspectives to enrich design and support empathy (Mat-
telmäki, 2006). Then in a similar way, in this quality screen, the
“quality robes” would be useful in the quality design and can be
related to the terms of activities, for example: a quality entity in
the scope of study; self-assessment; quality of proofing (Nuna-
maker et al., 1990-91); group-assessment; balancing of com-
plexity; and used in perspective of the design of human -c en tere d
quality in a general sense.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 1155
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
New Start Ups
Projec t Envi ron ment
Re search and De vel opmen t Env iro nme nt
Enterpris es and Soc ie tal Envi ron ments
213 b
Re gi onal -National -Gl obal
Most mac ro-l eve l
Forum Federation
Figure 4.
The evaluation design of actualizations.
The purpose of this study has been to describe the analyzed
concepts of regional development in a UAS in the perspective
of quality. The study furthered the continuum of the five earlier
studies and then addresses the comprehensive research question:
How can the regional development be understood, designed,
defined and actualized in a UAS?
In this analysis, the concepts for understanding, designing
and actualizations are presented in the perspective of quality
and a quality assurance system in higher education. The related
benefits of the study are: 1) interests of quality imple mentation
and confirmation; 2) benefits of strategy-based research and
development for actualizations; 3) problem-solving interests;
and 4) allowing transparency to research interests (by outsid-
Several conclusions emerge: 1) the advantages to domain
ontology in where the key terms were bridged to empirical
evidence; 2) the operational environment was investigated and
presented in the perspective of quality and empirical evidence;
3) the theoretical binding was explained in viewpoints of past
experience and quality in actualizations of a UAS; 4) the con-
cept of a quality process was described in sight of integration of
regional development and for improvements of future actualiza-
tions of authentic study units in the UAS context; 5) the con-
cept of thematic curriculum for integration of “curriculum-
syllabus” and “regional-national interest” as continuum was
presented; and finally 6) the concept of evaluation design was
analyzed, which can produced the scenery to the future im-
provements, such as setting of measuring of regional and na-
tional impacts. This type of analysis is highly complementary
to incremental theory building from previous regional theories
such as integration of the Triple Helix and co-creation theories
in a higher education context. The used form of multiple case
study analysis is useful in early development cycles, for exam-
ple in producing understanding of the logic of action and de-
velopment of meta-models to quality assurance system.
The study has significant implications for further research of
quality in regional context. The first implication addresses the
collaborative and co-creation activities of regional development.
This question would extend to: 1) what are the characteristics of
the dynamic and core capabilities in a region; 2) how would the
regional capabilities be linked to the competences, curriculum,
and R&D and innovation activities within quality assurance; 3)
how could future research be used more effectively in exploring
potential regional development and co-creative environments,
such as living labs and last-mile research in perspective of qual-
ity; 4) how could enough shared and co-created vision be built
in a region, the regional development network consists of actors
with different backgrounds and quality aims; 5) how can we
co-created a portfolio of strategies in a region to enable a
successful future development path to take place; and 6) how
should the significance of regional innovation networks be
thoroughly analyzed as part of regional, national, and sectorial
innovation systems with collaboration and R&D activities in
perspective of quality?
Second, the development of organizational culture, agility-
profile relations, and trust-commitment-based management be-
tween all actors would be in the interests of future research of
quality integration. The implication in this study includes two
relative different views: 1) how to understand the everyday line
management quality in this situation; and 2) how to conduct
and save agility-, trust-, motivation-, creativity- and vi-
sion-based profiles, triggers, drivers, and enablers in a higher
education with its collaborative networks.
Third, the study has implications for further research for a
deeper understanding in the measuring of results and impacts as
evaluation design; the future rese arch question would include: 1)
how to understand conceptualization of information and its
quality in the union of regional innovation networks and higher
education; 2) how to measure achieved impacts such as longitu-
dinal impacts over regional actors in the perspectives of quality;
and then 3) how to manage the quality of knowledge growth:
even national or regional innovation system or higher education
can’t control or utilize the continuously expanding knowledge
growth and increasing information flow.
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