24 February 2018
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Education research & development

How to manage a contemporary higher education institution?

- Posted by - (10) Comment

Text: Virginijus Kundrotas

Dean of Adizes Graduate School (USA),
Vice president of Adizes Institute (USA), Europe
President of BMDA – Baltic Management Development Association, Lithuania,
CEEMAN Vice President


What should a well established educational institution look like or how should it be managed?

There are opinions that educational institutions are so different to compared to business or non-governmental organisations that they should also need to be managed differently. Even if the difference specifically exists, the basic principles of management remain the same. Let’s look at it through the consulting methodology of Dr. Ichak Adizes (USA), an internationally known management thinker and implementer. 

The methodology of Dr. Adizes is based on the functional approach to management. Following that approach, any well-managed organisation or educational institution should perform four basic roles.


Functional – systematic – proactive - organic

First, it should be functional, meaning that it should provide what the client needs. In this case, the Institution will be effective in the short run.

Second, it needs to be systematic, which requires to administrating, systematizing, and executing tasks in systemic way. I noticed that in Lithuania (but also in a whole Central and East Europe) often we are lacking a systemic approach towards the issues to be solved and that requires us to reinvent the wheel each time we need one, wasting the time and energy.  If we perform this role, this will provide the efficiency in the short run.

Then, the organisation must be proactive, adapting to the new trends, grabbing the available opportunities in the market and forecasting where the market is going. This gives a chance to be effective in a long-term perspective.

And finally, it needs to be organic, integrating and creating a climate of cooperation. You need to ensure that all parts of your organization fit together and are interchangeable, which calls for long-term efficiency.

Let’s look at how these four aspects of successful organizations apply to the everyday activity of a Higher education institution. Such as program design, teaching, research activities, teaching materials preparation and relationship with the community.

I have noticed that there are a various traditions in Lithuania and the whole of Central and Eastern Europe when it comes to program design. Some of the programs are created based on heritage. This is especially true of large and bureaucratic institutions. They design their programs on the basis of what they have, not on the basis of what the clients need. Their goal is to satisfy the professors, who are working in their institutions, by allowing them to teach their courses not paying attention to are those courses needed in the program. Fortunately, institutions of this kind are becoming increasingly rarer and rarer.

Another trend that I have noticed is some of our institutions simply copy programs from more their experienced Western counterparts. There is nothing wrong in learning from more experienced colleagues or those who have achieved something already, but a copy-and-paste approach is never appropriate, especially if there is no deep understanding of the imported program. Like in the previous example, fortunately, there are less and less such institutions.

If you want to find out whether a higher education institution is well positioned to respond to customer needs, find out if it has executive development programs. These programs create a good opportunity to be close to the customers and study their needs and to offer what they desire.

One more suggestion is to look at the governance structure of the institution. Do they have Boards and external members in those Boards, letting have a closer connection with the business community and society at large? Do they have an advisory board from the local and international community? This helps enormously in the design of the relevant programs.

It is also a good indicator if faculty members participate in consulting activities because that work gives them an opportunity to understand real life issues and find out what corporate clients need.

Speaking about teaching, I often see the contradiction between traditional teaching and interactive teaching. In Central and Eastern Europe we still have a lot of cases when traditional teaching methods are used. There is nothing wrong with that, especially if the professor is good and manages to approach the audience in 3 different information perception ways, relying on visual, audio and imaginative stimuli. However, this type of teaching is not enough. Students should be involved in group-work and different types of interaction because this is much more efficient learning. The professor should not just preach but give the students an opportunity for discussion and participation in the learning process. This is where the most effective learning comes from.


Dr. Ichak Adizes

Higher Education institutions often are forced to conduct research, which gives them recognition among their academic peers. Such research is often seen as the main driver for innovation. Even if it is partially a true, still I saw a too many examples when HEI starts focusing on the research which is too advanced and has only long term perspective (we will come back to this important factor later on) forgetting about the applied research, which is the need of the local or international community now. They do not perform the research, which could be useful today for a practical world. As one of the well known management thinkers and implementers prof. Peter Lorange (former President of IMD Lousagne and current President of Lorange Institute in Switzerland) pointed out in January 2011 at an international conference in Lyon, “the innovation is real innovation only if it is understood by others, by your clients”. If it is too advanced and not understandable – it does not satisfy current client needs and therefore can not be effective in short term perspective.

In order to be so, the goal of HEI is to “speak understandable research language”.

As for the teaching material, it should support the learning process. Participating in various international accreditation site visits I have seen a lot of examples when students are overloaded with teaching materials. Huge reading lists are drawn up but in reality the students do not read all that material at all. It is better to focus on a few good textbooks andt give the students a real opportunity to read them and learn something from them in depth. Additional optional readings are welcomed to be included as well.

And the last point in order to keep effectiveness in short term perspective is to share your benefits with the community. It is extremely important to let society know what are you doing, what kind of programs you are offering and to communicate those programs by providing some elements of them to the community for free in order to create awareness, etc.

These remarks have been done towards the need to be functional. Now let’s look to the need be systematic.

Concerning program design, I have seen many ad hoc programs in their program portfolio at various institutions in Central and Eastern Europe. This means that those schools do not develop their programs on the basis of their strategic strengths. Every school has some strengths and weaknesses as well as its own unique strategic development strategy. But instead of setting up programs that reflects their strengths, they often use an ad hoc approach trying to have what their neighbours have or what they feel it is fashionable to have. The existing laws sometimes also encourage such mediocre behaviour. They call that “innovations”, but in reality it is only a fake try to do something really unique. Of course, that does not work well.

In order to be efficient with respect to teaching, I would say that you have to be sustainable in your approach, rather than fall prey to some temporary fashion.  Use new methods but do not overuse them. One of the examples could be given in relation with using too many slides in professor’s presentations. I have heard of a professor who used 200 slides in an hour presentation. The participants could not follow the speech and thoughts of that professor. Other wrong examples are to use case studies for people who do not have practical experience and using e-learning for people who do not have the challenge of participation and distance, etc.

In relationship with teaching materials the important issue is to provide those materials at the  time when they are needed by the students. In our part of the world, resources can be a big challenge. I am talking about books and the Internet. Price is still an issue. However, I think that if you know what you need, there is always a possibility to obtain it. We have perfect examples in CEE business schools of how to prepare and present those materials extremely efficiently.

How creativeness and innovation could apply for program design, teaching and materials preparation? Being proactive (and due to that effective in long run) involves an ability to adapt to shifting trends and opportunities. It is not enough to discover what the client needs today. We should be able to predict what the client will need tomorrow. The financial crisis demonstrated this in a very vivid way. Enrolment numbers have fallen at many institutions. Part of the problem is that companies have cut their budgets dedicated for learning. However, there is another reason: most institutions of Higher Education were unable to adapt to the rapidly changing situation.  They were not fast enough. They did not manage to offer a portfolio for the particular moment. Yet, after the initial shock, many HEI started getting out of their stupor and came up with innovative programs. It is possible to do that if you are proactive.

Talking about the teaching, I have also noticed another shortcoming of management education in Central and Eastern Europe: a lack of a high number of good professors. The same people teach on undergraduate, graduate and executive programs. They use the same methods across the board. That does not work. When you have experienced executives, you can immediately start a discussion. But when your audience consists of undergrads, you need to provide a stronger foundation first. Of course, interactive learning methods should be present.

Concerning the teaching materials, it is not a good strategy to develop some excellent stuff and use it for ever. You need to be constantly involved in case writing and development of new material. Proactiveness means adapting to new trends and opportunities and being permanently curious instead of finally satisfied.

Finally, in order to be organic (and due to that efficient in long term perspective), you need to use a team approach instead of a single-innovator approach. What I mean by that is that even if you have a fantastic professor who is very innovative and capable of developing a good program single-handedly, it is preferable to involve others in that process in order to achieve sustainability and interchange ability. Also, it is great to use prominent scholars but you also must involve other faculty and guest speakers in the same program. That will give everybody an opportunity to understand what is going on and create a good team spirit.

Also, this should apply in setting up research activities in HEI. The teams of researchers, working together in the particular expertise area are much more efficient than even very advanced individuals in long term perspective. They also create long lasting bases for the research traditions in the HE institutions.

The same thing is related towards creating teaching materials together enabling the creation the culture of mutual trust and respect within an organisation.

Involvement of local community (business, but also community at large) in study program development, teaching (as guest lecturers), research development (case studies creation), study materials development (providing practical examples, annual reports, etc.), advising the management of institution, etc. is assuring efficiency of operations in long term perspective.

I believe that Higher Education Institutions that use this approach from the four perspectives that I mentioned will be successful in designing the demanded programs, will be teaching them properly, will do the research, which benefit not only the authors of their creation,  will be able to create the relevant and useful teaching materials and have great connections with society.

They are then going to be effective and efficient in short and long term perspective!

And I sincerely wish this to them!

Category : Education research & development


Have your say. Send to:

By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

* * *

Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

* * *

* * *
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius

* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
By Leonidas Donskis
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!

* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

* * *
Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.

* * *
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
* * *
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

* * *

The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

* * *

Are all Lithuanian energy
problems now resolved?
By Dr. Stasys Backaitis,
P.E., CSMP, SAE Fellow Member of Central and Eastern European Coalition, Washington, D.C., USA

Lithuania's Energy Timeline - from total dependence to independence

Lithuania as a country does not have significant energy resources. Energy consuming infrastructure after WWII was small and totally supported by energy imports from Russia.

First nuclear reactor begins power generation at Ignalina in 1983, the second reactor in 1987. Iganlina generates enough electricity to cover Lithuania's needs and about 50%.for export. As, prerequisite for membership in EU, Ignalina ceases all nuclear power generation in 2009

The Klaipėda Sea terminal begins Russia's oil export operations in 1959 and imports in 1994.

Mazeikiu Nafta (current ORLEAN Lietuva) begins operation of oil refinery in 1980.

* * *

Have Lithuanian ties across
the Baltic Sea become
stronger in recent years?
By Eitvydas Bajarunas
Ambassador to Sweden

My answer to affirmative "yes". Yes, Lithuanian ties across the Baltic Sea become as never before solid in recent years. For me the biggest achievement of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea region during recent years is boosting Baltic and Nordic ties. And not because of mere accident - Nordic direction was Lithuania's strategic choice.

The two decades that have passed since regaining Lithuania's independence can be described as a "building boom". From the wreckage of a captive Soviet republic, a generation of Lithuanians have built a modern European state, and are now helping construct a Nordic-Baltic community replete with institutions intended to promote political coordination and foster a trans-Baltic regional identity. Indeed, a "Nordic-Baltic community" - I will explain later in my text the meaning of this catch-phrase.

Since the restoration of Lithuania's independence 25 years ago, we have continuously felt a strong support from Nordic countries. Nordics in particular were among the countries supporting Lithuania's and Baltic States' striving towards independence. Take example of Iceland, country which recognized Lithuania in February of 1991, well in advance of other countries. Yet another example - Swedish Ambassador was the first ambassador accredited to Lithuania in 1991. The other countries followed suit. When we restored our statehood, Nordic Countries became champions in promoting Baltic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. To large degree thanks Nordic Countries, massive transformations occurred in Lithuania since then, Lithuania became fully-fledged member of the EU and NATO, and we joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2015.

* * *

It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,

n his article, Val Samonis takes a comparative policy look at the Lithuanian economy during the period 2000-2015. He argues that the LT policy response (a radical and classical austerity) was wrong and unenlightened because it coincided with strong and continuing deflationary forces in the EU and the global economy which forces were predictable, given the right policy guidance. Also, he makes a point that LT austerity, and the resulting sharp drop in GDP and employment in LT, stimulated emigration of young people (and the related worsening of other demographics) which processes took huge dimensions thereby undercutting even the future enlightened efforts to get out of the middle-income growth trap by LT. Consequently, the country is now on the trajectory (development path) similar to that of a dog that chases its own tail. A strong effort by new generation of policymakers is badly needed to jolt the country out of that wrong trajectory and to offer the chance of escaping the middle-income growth trap via innovations.

* * *

Have you heard about the
South African "Pencil Test"?
By Karina Simonson

If you are not South African, then, probably, you haven't. It is a test performed in South Africa during the apartheid regime and was used, together with the other ways, to determine racial identity, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. That repressive test was very close to Nazi implemented ways to separate Jews from Aryans. Could you now imagine a Lithuanian mother, performing it on her own child?

But that is exactly what happened to me when I came back from South Africa. I will tell you how.

* * *
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