Guest Editors’ Letter
Building for the Future: Advancing Nordic Business Education
Finnish universities are committed to research-based education, and business education is no exception. Traditionally, this has been interpreted that the content of what we teach—be it for example finance, accounting, management, human resources, or marketing—should be derived from current research in the respective fields. In other words, the substance of education is expected to reflect the advancements and discoveries made through scholarly inquiry.
While incorporating research findings into the curriculum is essential, it is also critical to examine whether the pedagogy used in teaching is also based on research. The reasoning behind this is that good teaching is about more than just transmitting knowledge. It is about enabling the students to understand, apply, and create through trial and error processes. It is about constructing a positive and safe space that fosters deep learning and transformation. Research in higher business education plays a vital role in addressing this. By grounding teaching practices in research, business educators can ensure that the learning environment is supportive in fostering critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and a deep understanding of the content matter.
We had the privilege of facilitating a track titled “The Future of Nordic Business Education” at the 2022 Nordic Academy of Management Conference in Örebro, Sweden. The track featured a diverse group of business educators and researchers presenting their research on business education. We are pleased to showcase three of these studies in this special issue of the Nordic Journal of Business. Each paper presents a unique viewpoint and contributes to the evolving discourse on fostering business education.
In the first article, Helena Kantanen, Leena Penttinen, Päivi Rosenius, and Katri Ruth examine the “first-year experience” of business students during the COVID-19 pandemic. While prior research has demonstrated the pivotal role of the first year in integrating students into the academic community, the context of the pandemic offers a unique lens to understand this engagement or the lack thereof. The authors recommend that business educators place greater emphasis on the first-year experience. This can be achieved by fostering a genuine sense of community and belonging, nurturing trusting relationships with teachers and staff, bolstering students’ self-direction and academic study skills, providing flexible study modes, and leveraging students’ advanced digital skills.
The pandemic also inspired the second article, in which Mona Enell-Nilsson, Minna-Maarit Jaskari, and Päivi Borisov examine competence development from a student’s perspective. Using a user innovation course as their context, they compare how the transition from a predominantly face-to-face and blended learning mode to a fully online mode influenced students’ perceptions of their competence development. The longitudinal data spans five years, encompassing both quantitative and qualitative student data – three years prior to the pandemic and two years during it. The authors discuss how three underlying factors – roots and premises, freedom and independence, and social connectedness and support – appear to shape perceptions of competence development more than the teaching mode itself.
The third article shifts its focus from early business studies to the later phase of career-readiness. Sari-Johanna Karhapää and Mirjami Ikonen delve into the mentoring process, specifically examining trust in the mentoring relationship from the mentor’s perspective. While trust has been recognized as a pivotal element in a successful mentoring process, its evolution is not thoroughly understood. In their study, the authors employ qualitative interviews and a narrative approach to comprehend how trust evolves throughout the different phases of the mentoring process. Their findings highlight that a mentor’s competence of listening and hearing, combined with socioemotional communication skills with benevolence, and actions that demonstrate integrity, are vital in fostering trust. The authors underscore the significance of mentoring programs in enhancing business students’ career-readiness.
Although all three articles differ from one another, they all emphasize the significance of communication, social interaction, and guidance in student learning, well-being, and career-readiness. These articles undoubtedly provide food for thought, especially in the current context of business education development. In this environment, there is a push to shorten the duration of studies, increase the annual number of study achievements, transition courses online, and scale them for larger student populations.
We hope you find these articles both engaging and thought-provoking.
Minna-Maarit Jaskari and Jenni Kantola
Nordic Journal of Business
Helena Kantanen, Leena Penttinen, Päivi Rosenius and Katri Ruth – Where is My Community? First-Year Experience of Business Students during the Pandemic
Mona Enell-Nilsson, Minna-Maarit Jaskari and Päivi Borisov – Students’ Perception of the Development of Generic Competencies in a User Innovation Course Context – A Longitudinal Study Comparing Different Teaching Modes in Higher Education
Sari-Johanna Karhapää and Mirjami Ikonen – Trust during the Mentoring Process from the Mentor’s Perspective
The entire issue as a PDF can be found here.