Enriching the values of micro and small business research projects: co-creation service provision as perceived by academic, business and student
The National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (1996) chaired by Lord Dearing envisioned a university sector central to the UK’s knowledge-based economy. With successive government support the university-business partnership ideology has been put into practice. Widening participation has increased in emphasis over recent years, providing key innovations and skills to support business growth. Yet business schools activities in business growth is marginal against other university schools. The paper reports on an empirical study analyzing the university/business values derived from one small business engagement project. Data collected through semi-structured interviews, observations, memos, and discussions were coupled with critical evaluation of work and action-based learning (ABL) literature. Analysis reveals evidence of multiple value adding factors; it emerged that the existence of knowledge, present or generated through blended learning techniques, was a key value adding element. The findings enabled the construction of a universal process model providing a project framework, detailing areas of collaborative efforts and associated recompenses; this included ease in project advancements and a noticeably advanced project outcome. The study highlights these values in terms of individual and organizational learning, originality and quality of outputs. Given the growing importance of Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to the UK economy, understanding the value co-created by collaborative projects in delivering both work-based and ABL for graduates/students, academics and enterprise management is important.