Innovating Elite Undergraduate Education through Quality Continuous Improvement: A Learning Enterprise’s e-Transformation Perspective

Innovating Elite Undergraduate Education through Quality Continuous Improvement: A Learning Enterprise’s e-Transformation Perspective

Kam Hou Vat (University of Macau, Macau)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3886-0.ch089
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This chapter investigates a mechanism of organizational innovation serving to make sense of a maturing university community involving educational executives, academic staff, and students in the occasion of a new campus development, starting in the year 2009 and realizing in the year 2013, under the auspices of a national policy benefiting the long-term development of higher education in the Macau Special Administrative Region (Macau SAR) of China. It is understood that the university as a public institution should not be operated like a business enterprise, running on profit-making initiatives; yet, without the enterprising context, the transformation of the existing infrastructure could hardly be innovated effectively, especially regarding the productivity of its staff, both academic and administrative. As a university with a staff count of less than 1000 and a history of close to thirty years, the University of Macau (UM) is ready to steward an elite undergraduate education marked by a quality learning experience that could become her branding value in the immediate future. The question is how innovatively UM could scale up in this opportunistic growth to excel for the local community. This case study is aimed to investigate from the perspective of a learning enterprise, a reflective way of forward thinking to record the author’s observation and interpretation of what is entailed in this process of upbringing a relatively young university in this age-old city, Macau, famous for its rich heritage of East (Chinese) meeting West (Europeans – Portuguese). Of specific interest is the proper context of open innovation in university governance for organizational transformation. The chapter examines the accountability framework for undergraduate curriculum reform and by treating the electronic transformation (e-transformation) as one of the open innovation strategies, the chapter explores the e-transformation of the university environment, based on holistic concerns of the campus community. The challenge is to identify the organizational context of innovation, which lies in the realm of electronic governance (e-governance), referring mainly to the decisions that define expectations, enable empowerment, and verify performance of the systems in support of community engagement and shared responsibilities in campus development, providing a sense-making perspective to interpret what is entailed in the organizational innovation of the university in this precious occasion of campus relocation. In practice, the lessons learned behind the e-transformation of the learning enterprise should benefit all walks of our local community, including the community of the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
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In January 2009, following a visit to Macau paid by Mr. Xi Jinping, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China, UM was informed of the possibility of building her Hengqin campus and that this campus would serve as a pilot project being part of a broader collaboration between Guangdong, a province in southern China, and Macau, in the joint effort to develop Hengqin, currently an island with green fields just next to Macau, and to be substantially developed in the next 10 to 15 years through a nationally coordinated scheme of city planning. On June 27, 2009, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) officially approved the University of Macau’s Hengqin Campus Proposal, submitted by the Macau SAR Government in March 2009.

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