Hanken has a collegiate and well-developed quality culture
Conceptually, Hanken’s quality system is oriented at a basic PDCA cycle. At the core of the cycle are Hanken’s mission and strategy, which the quality system is intended to support. The system is by far best developed in education, heavily leaning on the Assurance of Learning process. This process also serves as the university’s prime example for demonstrating how the quality loop is closed: competence and teaching goals are translated into curricula, teaching formats and assessment, and later assessed based on course-embedded and thesis-based rubrics and artefacts. Various bodies as described above supervise the system and ensure that findings are taken up for further curriculum development. The audit team found no similar loops or the same level of systematism in other areas of operation.
This is not to say that there is no quality system in these other areas. In terms of quality management of research, Hanken has clear principles and policies in place steered by its strategic objectives, which highlight research areas of strength and high potential, ethical and responsible conduct of research, and advancing open science. Research activities are systematically monitored through a research management system, and support structures are in place for research funding and project applications. Hanken also conducts regular research evaluations, the results of which are linked to the research areas of strength policy (see also Section 2.2 for further discussion on research).
The annual operations planning at the institutional and unit levels, annual dialogues and follow-up of key performance indicators also ensures a relatively systematic process for strategy-linked implementation, follow up and enhancement of education, research, and societal engagement activities. There is still room for clearer goal setting, KPIs and data-driven management as well as further systematisation in the management and quality system processes as discussed elsewhere in this report.
The self-assessment, additional documents and the interviews also brought forward a great number of ad hoc and routine evaluations, and improvement actions that can be traced back to their identification via such evaluations. Overall, with some exceptions, the many anecdotal enhancements appear to be less owed to the effectiveness of a formal system, but rather to the underlying shared values of faculty, staff and students: the audit team saw strong indications of a latent, though potent quality culture, carried by professional, reflective and value driven actors on all levels. The teachers the audit team met were genuinely caring about their students and seemed dedicated to their task, in most cases making the most of their considerable autonomy. Hanken’s professional service staff have a good understanding of the realities and needs of their academic colleagues and approach their tasks enthusiastically and with considerable expertise. There is a sense of community and collegiality appreciated by everyone. This includes the impressive array of external stakeholders, albeit rather limited to the world of business, who were particularly positive about their relationships with the institution and who are heavily invested.
On the downside, the quality system thereby has the same “epistemological” limitations as the individual actors carrying the system. The system is very good with regard to first order learning: aiming to identify problems that need fixing and developing ways to fix them. As is the case with such systems, examples of enhancement could be more readily found in the administrative parts of the university. The system in its current status is less effective in supporting second order learning. Means of systematically analysing the university’s relevant (operational) environments are comparably underdeveloped and strongly bound to representative systems (boards, advisory groups) and informal exchange (via networks and personal contacts), which makes the system reactive rather than proactive. In simpler words: Whereas the quality system allows the university to mostly identify if things are being done right, there are less possibilities for determining if the institution is doing the right things.
In addition, the audit team saw some indicators of a system where what problems are identified and how they are tackled has been heavily mitigated by the relevance structures of the academic departments or even individual academics. This is not an argument for complete standardisation but ensuring some minimum standards across disciplines will be key for Hanken to live up to its mission on the institutional level.
Developing indicators and processes to assess the effectiveness of the overall system beyond Assurance of Learning and installing regular reflective loops, e.g., by means of a meta or blind-spot-evaluation, would help the university to overcome some of these issues and further develop and/or integrate existing components. Relatedly, there are some aspects of good practice exchange in place, but the potential for learning from within the institution as much as from outside of it, is far greater than currently realised.
Summing up, the audit team wants to highlight the considerable, collegiate and well-developed quality culture at Hanken, deeply embedded in the different actors’ and stakeholders’ mindsets and frequently alluded to as the “Hanken spirit”.
The audit team identifies the need to further develop the quality system in a direction where it not only helps the university to identify internal shortcomings but supports it in setting priorities and tackling environmental and internal risks and opportunities. Hanken is thus advised to develop instruments and systematic processes for scanning and/or monitoring the institution’s operational environment and strategic horizons, and for linking these to the PDCA cycle. Hanken should also devise a mechanism for determining the quality system’s effectiveness beyond the regular check-ups via externally driven quality assessments.