The study explores how higher education institutions may engage employers effectively in curriculum development within the context of collaboration. By way of a case study into an Executive MBA programme at BI Norwegian School of Management, it seeks to investigate how HEI and employers can collaborate effectively in curriculum development. The study draws on documentation analysis and semi-structured interviews of central participants involved in the curriculum development. The case study explores the main processes and relationships underpinning the collaborative curriculum development in order to identify the drivers and situations likely to influence the HEI-employer collaboration in curriculum development. More specifically, the study identifies some challenges and pragmatic issues that arise for HEI in managing the collaborative initiative and focuses on the engagement activities of HEI that may contribute to effective collaboration. By doing so, it allows understanding how such collaboration/partnership can be managed effectively for improved curriculum planning and delivery. The study also shows how the initial experience of this Executive MBA curriculum development may inform the effective collaboration.
The main findings of this study can be summarised as follows: Firstly, such HEI-employer collaboration needs to be led by academics in order to integrate meaningful employer input and balance the different expectations of different stakeholders; Secondly, further employer involvement in work-related assessment or other support for student learning is not easily achieved and needs careful nurturing; Thirdly, maintaining positive dynamics between academics and employers and sustaining continued engagement from both partners are crucial to the successful curriculum development results. Certain factors that may contribute to this are identified, such as the establishment and use of an Advisory board. However, there is no one right way to handle the complexity of employer engagement, and each programme will need to find its way of working.
More research is needed to understand how meaningful employer input can be integrated at individual programmes; how employers can be involved in work-related assessment or other activities in supporting student learning; and how both partners can be effectively engaged.
Key words: curriculum development, HEI-employer collaboration, employer engagement