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Multidisciplinary case study course focuses on dealing with organisational sustainability challenges

Published on 15.12.2023
Tampere University
Janne Seppänen (on the left) and Jasper de Jonge worked on the course on an assignment commissioned by the Crisis Management Centre Finland in a team of five. The case was related to the mental health of people working in crisis areas. “Our whole group was enthusiastic about the assignment, and it was really meaningful to work on a topic for which everyone has intrinsic motivation,” politics students Seppänen and de Jonge say.
The Examining Leadership and Sustainability Challenges case study course was held again this autumn. In the joint course of the Master’s programmes International Leadership for Change and Sustainable Business, challenges and projects commissioned by diverse organisations are solved.

The purpose is that students may practise conducting research and at the same time produce genuine benefits for the organisations providing cases to the course. The course aims to highlight how researched knowledge is genuinely and concretely connected to and beneficial to the surrounding society.

Project topics based on the needs of organisations

The course is based on cases provided by various organisations, which students seek to solve with a research-based approach in multidisciplinary groups. It is hoped that students from the degree programmes of administrative science, business studies, and politics participate in the groups.

The topics are related to sustainability from different perspectives, and efforts have been made to involve as diverse a group of organisations providing cases as possible. Students often have wishes on project topics either through their studies or  hobbies, and attempts are being made to find a project personally interesting for each student on the course.

Catalyst for many opportunities

Often the participants of the course are at the phase in their studies that they are about to begin authoring their Master’s thesis soon. The course may provide ideas and feeds, for example, for selecting the topic and, on the other hand, make it possible to familiarise with different research methods and using them. The projects themselves may also be refined into topics for further research and the collaboration between organisations and students can thus be continued.

Anna Hannula, Anni Kangas and Malla Mattila, who teach in the course, say that one of the course goals is to provide students with an understanding of how studied knowledge and the research conducted at the University are related and how the knowledge learned may be used in the future working life.

The course also provides a valuable view of Finnish organisations and working life especially for international students.

Anni Kangas, University Lecturer, Faculty of Management and Business

“The case study course provides students with an opportunity to hone not only research-related but also project management and teamwork skills. The course also provides a valuable view of Finnish organisations and working life especially for international students,” Kangas points out.

Aiming to genuinely benefit involved organisations

From the perspective of the assigning organisations, the students’ projects produce useful information that the organisations can further refine in their operations. The research results are presented at the last meeting of the course, and some organisations have also organised internal presentations where the students have been able to present the results to the staff more widely.

The Crisis Management Centre Finland (CMC Finland) is participating in the case study course for the first time but have already collaborated a lot with Tampere University.

“The case study course appeared to us as a low-threshold way of getting answers to a question that is important, but for which we may not have the resources to investigate in depth. The multidisciplinarity of the students on the course allows us to have a broader perspective on the answers than we could produce ourselves,” Preparedness Specialist at the Crisis Management Centre Finland Mikko Keltanen says.

The multidisciplinarity of the students on the course allows us to have a broader perspective on the answers than we could produce ourselves.

Mikko Keltanen, Preparedness Specialist, Crisis Management Centre Finland

The more committed the involving organisation is, the more students will get out of the course. The University, however, is responsible for steering the projects and the input of the participating organisations focuses on the planning and drafting of cases in cooperation with the teachers in the course and the presentation of the results.

“We intend to use the final work as a background for benchmarking and as a reference point for the views that have emerged through our processes and the basic assumptions of our operations. We felt that this was a good way to take an outside look at topics that we might have a limited perspective on,” Keltanen mentions.

New partners are warmly welcomed

The organisations that have been involved so far have mainly been contacted through the teachers’ contacts and networks, but new organisations are warmly welcomed to join.

“Planning for the next course begins in the spring and we are again looking for new partners in organising the course,” Hannula, Kangas and Mattila say and encourage everyone interested getting in touch.


More info

Anna Hannula, anna.hannula [at] (anna[dot]hannula[at]tuni[dot]fi)

Anni Kangas, anni.kangas [at] (anni[dot]kangas[at]tuni[dot]fi)

Malla Mattila, malla.mattila [at] (malla[dot]mattila[at]tuni[dot]fi)