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Breen, H 2001, 'Cooperative education partnerships : an examination of reciprocal relationships between universities and tourism and hospitality industry organisations in providing professional development education for their employees', MBus, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright H Breen 2001


Cooperative educational partnerships in Australia are considered to be innovative ventures where universities join with industry in a working relationship, sharing resources to develop and provide professional development education for the industry employees. The distinguishing feature of a cooperative education partnership is that all partners contribute to the development, design and delivery of academic courses in the workplace. This research assesses the role and key aspects of professionalism developed by professional development education for industry employees. More specifically, the investigation examined the conditions that contribute to building mutually beneficial, reciprocal cooperative education partnerships between a university and its tourism and hospitality partners. A qualitative approach was adopted to analyse and to understand five cooperative education partnerships situated within the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia. The investigation used the ‘Tit-for-Tat’ strategy (Axelrod, 1984; Ridley, 1996; Davies, 1999) based on the old French game of ‘Prisoners Dilemma’ (Campbell, 1983; Trivers, 1983) to examine reciprocity. The investigation revealed that providing university-level professional development education through cooperative education partnerships contributed to the development and enhancement of professionalism in the tourism and hospitality organisations involved in the study. Two aspects of professionalism, a renewal of learning, and establishing a positive professional reputation, were found to be important for advancing professionalism in this education arena. A further finding was that when a university, tourism and hospitality businesses and industry associations join together in cooperative education partnerships, they generally respond and adapt to each other in reciprocal ways to ensure the sustainability and success of their partnership. Adjustment, adaptation, responsiveness and synergy were found to be important reciprocal concepts that underpin cooperative dynamics in this investigation.