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Lessons from Covey: win-win principles for university-employer engagement

Sarah Tudor (Enterprise and Commercial Development, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK)
Richard Mendez (Research and Enterprise Service, Keele University, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 20 October 2014




In the UK, universities are coming under increasing pressure from government to strengthen university-employer co-operation and engagement in areas such as student placements, graduate internships, knowledge exchange, enterprise and work-based learning. Both the Higher Education (HE) White Paper (BIS, 2011) and the Wilson Review (BIS, 2012) encourage universities to focus on this agenda, putting businesses at the heart of the system alongside students to maximise innovation, promote growth and “ensure students come out of universities equipped to excel in the workforce”. (BIS, 2011, p. 39). The need for universities to engage with employers and build strong relationships to maximise mutual partnership value is integral to this work. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


This paper examines the application of win-win principles (Covey, 1989) to employer engagement activities in HE via two case studies. Following an analysis of the results in each case study, they show that the adoption of such approaches has enhanced employer engagement, consolidated existing employer relationships and led to tangible outcomes such as new student placement opportunities.


The paper suggests that HE employer engagement activities grounded in Covey's win-win principles are likely to enhance results and relationships with employers than those that omit such principles. The paper concludes by encouraging the utilisation of such principles across the spectrum of HE employer engagement activities.

Originality value

The authors believe this is the first time this method of analysis has been applied to university-employer relationships.



Tudor, S. and Mendez, R. (2014), "Lessons from Covey: win-win principles for university-employer engagement", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 213-227.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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