A T-shaped model for rethinking higher education programs

Marialuisa Saviano, Francesco Polese, Francesco Caputo, Leonard Walletzký


The vibrant scenario emerging, given recent social and economic trends, is launching new challenges to organizations, highlighting the need to increase their competitiveness by improving human resources capabilities and competences.

Increasing complexity requires that managers and policy makers be endowed with new competences and capabilities to more effectively manage variety. In particular, the need to combine traditional hyper-specialized knowledge with more dynamic and cross-sectional capabilities is growing and requires new management approaches.

In an attempt to address this need, a promising research stream is attracting interest among scholars from various disciplinary domains, affirming the “T-shaped professional” as a possible reference model in which vertical expertise is combined with horizontal and cross-sectional knowledge. Building on the advancements of this research stream, the paper aims to investigate the opportunities and key factors of rethinking traditional education models and programs by exploring the contribution of service research in the field of education through the interpretative lens of systems thinking. Basic arguments for the proposal developed in the paper find support from evidence emerging from the analysis of the Master Degree program in Service Science, Management and Engineering (SSME) of the Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic), considered an example of application of the T-shaped model.


T-Shaped Professional; Education models; Multi- and trans-disciplinary pathways; Service research; Systems thinking

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