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University-Industry Collaboration: From contradictions to transformations in work-integrated e-learning practices
University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Production Systems. (LINA PTW iAIL)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0086-9067
2022 (English)In: International Conference on Work Integrated Learning: Abstract Book, Trollhättan: University West , 2022, p. 130-131Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The manufacturing industry is constantly facing hard times employing key expertise to deploy a digital transformation of Industry 4.0 enabling technologies and applications (Lasi et al., 2014). Challenges of increased industrial digitalization pressure the industry to expand professionals’ future knowledge to be capable of new production systems, virtual manufacturing, and digital services. This requires new types of knowledge applicable to transformative work practices and for future adaptation (Ford, 2015). Becoming a competent expert for an entire working life tends to be harder for today’s professionals because of digital disruptions (Belski et al., 2016; Susskind & Susskind, 2015), and therefore they continuously need to seek new knowledge and learning as integrated part of work combined with new theoretical knowledge through academic studies in higher education. Competence development through university-industry collaboration (UIC), is a vehicle for asserting high-technological change and innovative capacities (Ankrah & Tabba, 2015; Sjöö & Hellström, 2019). Specifically, university tailormade courses that enhance the co-construction of knowledge and develop professionals’ learning and skills to augment the industrial business demands in the context of Industry 4.0 (Abelha et al., 2020). However, there seems to be a dual situation with the industry effectiveness pressure on the one hand, and the blended competence development opportunities offered by the university, on the other. This situation raises challenges with the different stakeholders’ perspectives of inter-organizational collaboration that presumes productive development. Colliding interests and conflicts on different systemic levels may occur, and inter-organizational collaborations may not per se cause benefits and learning, but rather needs to be analyzed through their inner contradictions a s power for change. Contradictions, however, are systemic, embedded in history, developing over time, and cannot be studied directly. Hence, in this study contradictions on various levels are explored, as a power for change (Engeström & Sannino, 2010;2011). Included contradictions are those manifested by the professionals in UIC and intra-organizational situations within the industry organizations. Also, contradictions concerning the professionals’ own motivation for learning related to the industry competence demands and the management’s lack of, or support for such learning initiatives. Hence, the analytical lens is the industry professionals’ knowledge construction that emerges in a work-integrated e-learning (e-WIL) practice of UIC to sustain resilient interorganizational collaboration through UIC (Hattinger & Eriksson, 2020). The study is conducted within a competence development program of short academic courses targeting industry professionals’ knowledge needs, to strengthen individual learning and co-construction of knowledge with the prospect of generating organizational transformations, i.e., the professionals’ knowledge generation in a trajectory growing from participants’ discursive manifestation of contradictions, actionable solutions towards tra nsformations. Such knowledge generation tends to be temporary, riddled with problems and conflicts, therefore, it is argued to identify systemic contradictions to be used as energizing forces and triggers for development and change (Engeström & Sannino, 20 10; 2011). With the perspectives of professionals’ motives, interactions, and experiences, the aim is to grasp inner tensions between different perspectives to reach the kernel of potential future expansive transformations, i.e., the professionals’ views concerning the industry objectives, the learning trajectory of engineering subjects, and the e -learning course design. 

Given this, the first research question asked is: What kinds of discursive manifestations of contradictions do industry professionals experience as inner learning motives of competence development for organizational purposes?To further the understanding of how professionals assert knowledge to generate actionable solutions, the second question asked is: How are these manifestations negotiated, and turned into actionable solutions and potentially expansive transformations? 

MethodThe questions investigate the professionals’ experiences of their course participation and knowledge construction on a micro-level using the cultural-historical activity theory, CHAT, (Engeström & Sannino, 2010). Engeström and Sannino (2011) have developed a methodological framework that analyzes contradictions through their discursive manifestations. Contradictions do not speak for themselves, rather they become recognized through people’s articulation of tensions and dilemmas. It is through their discursive manifestations during conversations and actions that they are made visible (Engeström & Sannino, 2011).Data from a longitudinal e-WIL project was collected for three years and consisted of twelve focus group sessions comprising a total of 119 professionals in 15 industry companies. The professionals participated in e -learning courses designed with pedagogy that stimulate work-integrated learning covering knowledge needs such as industrial automation and machine security in robotics, negotiation skills, and machining. A comprehensive analysis of the discursive manifestation of contradictions implies a transition into actionable (possible) solutions toward expansive transformations. The three steps analysis became a powerful approach for grasping learning insights between professionals and understanding the effects of e-learning design and co-construction of knowledge on a systemic level. 

Results and contributionDiscursive manifestations of contractions occurred on different levels, concerning the dual situation of the industry effectiveness pressure on the one hand, and the e-WIL course opportunity offered by the university, on the other. The most critical conflict was the lack of industry companies’ maturity to support professionals’ time and performance related to individual professional career paths that will trigger future expansive transformations. However, the professionals described actionable solutions to many of the defined dilemmas, concerning practical e-learning design problems, which were easy to overcome. With the concepts of manifestations of contradictions, actionable solutions, and expansive transformations, we have increased our understanding of knowledge and problem-solving processes emerging in UIC networks with many different stakeholders. The article contributes to a developed approach for analyzing discursive manifestations of contradictions toward expansive transformations in workplace practices. It also contributes to empirical findings of inter-organizational collaborations through an innovative work-integrated e-learning context. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: University West , 2022. p. 130-131
Keywords [en]
discursive manifestations of contradictions, actionable solutions, expansive transformations, professionals, manufacturing industry, Industry 4.0, e-learning design.
National Category
Learning Pedagogy
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning; Production Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-19574ISBN: 9789189325302 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-19574DiVA, id: diva2:1725787
Conference
WIL'22 International Conference on Work Integrated Learning, 7-9 December 2022, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden
Note

The general theme of the conference is: “WIL in the service of society”

Available from: 2023-01-11 Created: 2023-01-11 Last updated: 2023-03-15Bibliographically approved

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Hattinger, Monika

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