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Systems in tension : perceptions of business and education in partnership Després, Blane Rolland

Abstract

The aim of this research project has been to map the range of perceptions that a small sample of educators, business representatives and students, drawn from communities situated around an urban center in western Canada, have of the nature of business and education as well as business-education partnerships. Through an analysis of these perceptions, this work is intended to develop a framework for the study of these partnerships in the future, and in the development or avoidance of such partnerships by the potential participants in them. From the range of perceptions held by the participants in this dissertation, we can conclude that partnering is not a simple matter of two parties agreeing to some workable union between them for mutual benefits. Yet, despite many benefits accrued, partnerships are troublesome arrangements. Business and education systems are comprised of factors, including participants' perceptions of the purposes, form and structure of education, that influence both the approach to, and the set up of, partnership arrangements. The difficulty of business-education partnerships is far more complex than questionable business motives and practices. From the perceptions of the participants in this study it is evident that education alone in partnerships is a matter interpreted differently by its various stakeholders and practitioners. I am not suggesting that these perceptions are generalizeable to a larger population, but the perceptions of this group present what I would argue are effective examples of how there can be points of divergence and convergence among the participants in business-education partnerships, and how the fundamental and significant nature of those points can provide the basis of a breakdown or the development of such partnerships. A greater understanding of these points of view and the factors highlighted by the participants arguably provide the best starting place for dialogue between business and education about partnering benefits, drawbacks and possibilities. And finally I suggest that systemic thinking principles be used to coordinate these viewpoints and make for collaboration, and not merely sufferance.

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