A Critical Examination of the Role of University Industry Collaboration in the Professionalisation of the Event Industry: The Academic Perspective

  • Jennifer Louise Flinn

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis critically examines the role of University Industry Collaboration (UIC) in the professionalisation of the event industry, from the perspective of the academic. As the number of events has risen in the last 40 years and consumer demands have become increasingly complex, there has therefore been a growing recognition of the need for dedicated professionals to plan and deliver events. Higher Education (HE) has therefore come to play an important role in supplying this emerging global industry with high quality graduates. Despite both the event industry and Events Management Education (EME) having undergone significant growth in recent years, it is often reported that the relationship between the two areas is limited, with the event industry regularly accusing educators of failing to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to operate within this dynamic and complex industry. This thesis argues that collaboration does commonly occur between EME and the event industry in the form of UIC in teaching and learning. However, a lack of research in this area means that at present, such relationships are currently not fully valued by HE, nor are their benefits fully acknowledged by the wider industry. The thesis attempts to overcome this gap, offering an in-depth examination of the role of UIC in the professionalisation of the event industry.

Drawing upon the findings of a series of qualitative semi-structured interviews undertaken with academics from a range of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) from across the UK, the thesis provides three major research outputs. Firstly,building upon a review of literature, which concluded that existing models for understanding professionalism and professionalisation are outdated and do not reflect the requirements of contemporary society and/or emerging industries such as events, the thesis proposes a new framework for understanding the professionalisation of the event industry. The framework highlights the central role of EME within this process, demonstrating the fundamental importance of collaboration to professionalisation.

Secondly, focusing specifically on UIC within teaching and learning, the research demonstrates that despite the concerns previously raised, a culture of collaboration exists within EME, with academics working closely alongside industry to ensure that graduates are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their chosen area. The thesis proposes a model demonstrating the cyclical development of EME and the event industry,whereby a symbiotic relationship exists and each is reliant upon the other to gain legitimacy and drive professionalisation.

Thirdly and finally, the thesis concludes that in the increasingly volatile environment in which EME and the event industry are operating, collaboration offers a means of securing short-term survival and long-term sustainability.Consolidating the findings of the research, a model for understanding the roleof UIC in the professional development of the event industry is provided. The model demonstrates the cyclical nature of the relationship between EME and the event industry, highlighting the role of UIC in the advancement of EME and professionalisation of the event industry. It also attempts to overcome current disparities between the strategies adopted in relation to UIC in teaching and learning and their practical implementation by identifying the factors required to build success. As HE is increasingly required to prove its value to industry and wider society and UIC is deemed to be a priority, as currently government policy and funding schemes indicate, this thesis offers an in-depth understanding of the contribution of UIC in teaching and learning to the advancement and on-going sustainability of both EME and the event industry.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
SupervisorAnne Smith (Supervisor) & Alison Nimmo (Supervisor)

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