Forskningssamarbejde: Motivation og relationer

Camilla Riff Brems

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


Research collaboration is an important part of everyday life for researchers today. Like in other areas, the increased complexity and increased specialisation leads to an increased interdependence among researchers. A research evaluation at DTU Transport has pointed out, that the department could exploit the present strengths of inter-disciplinary research collaboration even more by strengthening the collaboration within the department. However, the recent employee satisfaction evaluation indicates, that learning from each other and collaboration across the department are among the things that the researchers find most difficult. Consequently, the main questions are: What do motivation and relations mean to the research collaboration at DTU Transport? • How can we understand research collaboration? • How does the researchers’ motivation influence their attitude towards collaboration? • What do the researchers’ relations in the form of frames, roles and interaction mean to collaboration? In the understanding of research collaboration concepts like single-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research are determined based on e.g. the researchers of the departments’ description of what they think is research collaboration. With these concepts in place it is possible to illustrate the motivation of the researchers and the effect on their attitude towards collaboration. This shows a clear distinction between researcher motivated by single-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research. The two types can be related to the archetypes ‘ekstrovert præstationstripper’ and ‘primadonna’ by Hein, and by that inspire how to manage researchers. As part of the analysis, it shows that the need for and the difficulties of formulating a common research aim depends on the motivation. This will influence the possibility of creating trans-disciplinary research collaboration. Finally, there are indications that the preferred mode of collaboration influences the extent of publishing and by that the long term career of the researchers. In the motivation based perspective it became clear that the distinction between single-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research is significant for the way the researchers describe their own motivation both in relation to the actual research and in relation to the different types of research collaboration, which they choose to participate in. In this way, a researcher has much more motivation and tendency to participate in inter-disciplinary collaboration, as either multidisciplinary or trans-disciplinary research, if he or she wishes to contribute to society or find a higher meaning. In relation to the discussions of motivation in relation to research collaboration, the analysis adds another dimension to the ongoing political debate at the universities about single-disciplinary and applied research. The third sub question concerns the relation among researchers and the effect of frames, roles and interaction in the Goffman perspective on research collaboration. Based on the researchers’ reports of episodes from research collaboration and observations at the department, it becomes clear what is at stake in some specific situations. This illustrates the meaning of e.g. an agenda for a project meeting or the risk of challenging the scientific approach of other researchers. In the relational perspective the analysis has pointed to both small and large factors, which influence both the relations during the research project and the chances of obtaining successful inter-disciplinary research collaboration. Among the small factors are the issue of setting a meeting agenda, how much you listen and argue for a decision etc. Based on the experiences during this project much can be changed in the understanding of collaboration through increased consciousness about these factors. Among the larger factors is an increased understanding by the researchers’ of the importance of frames (e.g. negotiated ambitions, collaborations, and mutual understanding) in making larger research collaborations run smoothly. Some of these are related to ordinary starting activities on projects (which are often overlooked), while there are extra challenges in the inter-disciplinary collaboration.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages57