- A U T U M N, 2 0 0 2 -


WACRA World Conference at the
University for Public Administration Mannheim

The University for Public Administration:
A highly regarded Host and Partner
for International Universities

Anja Nikolay
(Student Host)
Arbeitsamt Trier


From June 30 to July 3, 2002, The University for Public Administration in Mannheim hosted the 19th International Conference of the "World Association for Case Method Research & Application" (WACRA®). 153 delegates from 22 countries participated.

Prof. Dr. Franz Egle and Prof. Dr. Hermann Saterdag

Founded in 1984, WACRA evolved from contacts between professors, researchers, policy-maker, professionals and business executives into a worldwide, interdisciplinary organization of professionals and academics from fifty countries. Dr. Hans E. Klein, Executive Director of WACRA, in a interview with University for Public Administration (UPA) student Bernhard Eickmann (refer to: FH-Intranet, "WACRA"), the goals and objectives of WACRA as follows: "Our goal is to develop and disseminate new, innovative teaching and learning methods world wide." The emphasis is on the so-called 'case method' which features learning using concrete, praxis based case studies and simulations. This approach requires constructive cooperation between teaching faculty, business and other professionals.

WACRA organizes forums, symposia, workshops, training sessions, doctoral consortia and conferences, including international meetings at which participants have the opportunity to exchange ideas, present their research, and share the results of case writing and case method applications. Through this international exchange of ideas, interactive teaching and learning methods gain more acceptance and application. The further development in all fields of learning and training takes on new importance in a global competitive environment.

The congress began with a reception by the minister of Science of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Prof. Dr. Peter Frankenberg, in the Rittersaal (Knights Hall) of the Mannheimer Castle. In his presentation Minister Frankenberg emphasized the importance of the development of modern teaching didactics at the university level, especially the opportunities new media will provide. He was pleased that the WACRA was going to address these issues as well. He considers UPA an important partner for the development and use of virtual study programs.

The Director of the University for Public Administration, Prof. Dr. Hermann Saterdag, viewed WACRA's decision to hold this year's conference in Mannheim as a reason for joy and pride and the confirmation of the growing recognition of the accomplishments of the UPA, also internationally, since renowned universities hosted all prior WACRA conferences. He considers the case method as instructional form important because it "simulates life, because confronts the learner with daily job decision-making dilemmas in an controlled environment and as a result is demanding for students and teacher alike".

Prior to the conference, two renowned case teachers from Canada, Prof. Dr. Taïeb Hafsi, Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (H.E.C.), University of Montreal, Montreal Canada and Prof. Dr. James Erskine, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada (refer also to: Interviews on the UPA Homepage "WACRA") conducted for UPA faculty a special workshop on case teaching and learning.

The presentations of two professors of the University Koblenz-Landau left strong impressions. Prof. Dr. Liesel Hermes introduced the international audience to Germany with informative, spirited, tongue in cheek remarks on "Germany and the Germans - Facts, Clichés, Prejudies". Prof. Dr. Reinhold S. Jäger's contribution "National and International Large Scale Assessments: What to Do and What to Avoid" presented his responses to the recent, much discussed, European Union PISA study on the state of education in Europe.

Prof. Dr. Markus Vinzent, Birmingham University, England, introduced a [Employment] Matching-System, of much interest to the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesanstalt für Arbeit). His "uni-gateway" model (for details visit www.uni-gateway.com) is designed to create a far-reaching database of job seekers and open jobs comprised of German and international universities, enterprises and university graduates.

He articulated the challenges, especially for German universities, as "Education needs to improve job training, recruiting and university marketing need to become more efficient and the universities must benefit from training students to meets the labour market's expectations."

Regina Konle-Seidle, German Federal Employment Agency, Nuremberg and Prof. Dr. Franz Egle, UPA Mannheim made presentations on "Changes in Employment Services in Europe Through Deregulation" and "Reshaping the German Labour Market System - New Matching-Systems and Public-Private Partnership Models ", respectively.

The contacts to WACRA were established through Prof. Dr. Franz Egle, who in 1995 was a delegate to a WACRA conference and who is serving on the Wacra Advisory Board. He sees the benefits from cooperating with WACRA in stronger international relations and exchange programs as well as improved teaching methodologies: "In the future, we plan to professionalize learning and concentrate less on the application of theory". He hopes to find interview partners among the decision makers of the German Federal Employment Agency to create a "Case-Study Bundesanstalt für Arbeit".

As interesting and varied as the conference presentations, workshops and plenary sessions, were the cultural-educational activities which allowed the guest to be immersed in German culture and way of life, especially in the Rhein-Neckar region. Conference delegates were also afforded the opportunity to participate in a four-day educational tour through Southern Germany.

For UPA the conference represented the first international gathering of this size and, as a result, was placed high demands and expectations - which were all met - on faculty, staff and students involved in the planning and organization. During the conference nine UPA students received on the job training as "guides, interpreters, and behind-the-scenes managers" and at the same time experienced the special 'flair' of the event. For the delegates, Bob und Kay Manley, Dowling College, West Islip, NY, U.S.A., expressed their gratitude for the assistance rendered by the students as follows: "In addition, your students were outstanding support personnel and ambassadors for the School of Public Administration in Mannheim and Germany".

Outcomes of the conference could be applied to the education and training programs at UPA to allow students to 'grow' in an environment, close to real life and new developments. Students already now are participating in some projects, e.g., 'Talent Marketing'. To learn about modern 'Matching Systems' or new projects such as "Fair-Job-Company", presently the curriculum does not provide sufficient coverage and does not allow enough time. Also the Education Programs of the German Federal Employment Agency could benefit from the "era of revolution" to maximize the potential of employees and ideas.

For further conference details visit www.talentmarketing.de/WACRA

 - Translated from the German by Hans E. Klein