The contribution of systems and service research to rethinking higher education programs: a T-shaped model

  • Marialuisa Saviano
  • Francesco Polese
  • Francesco Caputo
  • Leonard Walletzký
Keywords: Education models, multi- and trans-disciplinary knowledge, systems thinking, service research, T-Shaped professionals


Purpose of the paper: Building upon the advancements in knowledge proposed by the research stream about the “T-shaped professional”, 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.

Methodology: The paper traces a wide conceptual framework rooted in systems thinking and service research with the intent of highlighting the contribution of a T-shaped view in higher education programs. The proposed conceptual arguments are then tested through the analysis of the Master’s Degree program in Service Science, Management and Engineering (SSME) of the Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic).

Results: The paper proposes basic arguments for the development of a T-shaped model in higher education programs and empirical evidence concerning the possibility of implementing an effective T-shaped approach based on systems thinking in order to rethink higher education programs.

Practical implications: The paper provides a path to combine traditional hyper-specialized knowledge with more dynamic and cross-sectional capabilities in higher education programs.

Originality of the paper: A wide perspective about the “T-shaped professionals” as a possible reference model in which vertical expertise is combined with horizontal capabilities and cross-sectional knowledge is proposed in the light of Systems Thinking and Service Research.


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