Arts-Based-Methods in Innovation Management Education

The business environment is in turmoil as a result of global economy, politics and digitalization.

Changes can be surprising and quick. The change brought about by digitalization and the global economy makes it difficult to anticipate future changes. This sets a demand for innovation capacity in organizations and innovation sensitive change-oriented leadership.

In addition to analytical competence, empathy and the ability to reflect own beliefs and the established ways of thinking and working are needed in leadership. In a challenging, constantly evolving business environment, creative approaches and fresh ideas for leadership development must be found.

The Innovation Management subject area in the business school at the University of Eastern Finland has systematically developed learning methods that encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning, learn from others and use creative methods in learning. As part of this development, we have utilized arts-based methods in the Innovation Cultures course when considering, how organizations learn, how innovative organizational culture is part of strategic leadership and what kind of leadership is required for renewal.

Our experience shows that arts-based methods promote experiential learning, strengthen student-centered learning and encourage a new kind of dialogue between students and lecturers. Also, arts-based methods increase personal reflection, collective reflection, and awareness of self as a contributor to change.

Researchers and educators involved with use arts-based methods in universities are small but growing in Finland and elsewhere in the world. Our experiences as a teacher and as a student in the Innovation Cultures course were published in a book ( that collected examples of the use of arts-based-methods in universities in different countries. In our chapter we describe the course’s implementation, review student feedback, and consider what opportunities arts-based learning offers. The course will be taught in the autumn 2019 for the seventh time. The course gives students the courage to be creative, reflexive and empathetic. The course will inspire students to discuss how to grow into a future professional who not only appreciate innovation management in organizations as a process of learning and change but also engage in innovative behavior themselves.

Hanna Lehtimäki & Heidi Silvast (2019). Using Student-led arts-based methods in Finnish Higher Education to foster Leadership for Change. In Steven Taylor & Elena Antonacopoulou (Eds.) Sensuous Learning for Practical Judgment in Professional Practice. Vol. II. Palgrave.


Hanna Lehtimäki

Professor, Ph.D.


Heidi Silvast

M.Sc. in Economics


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