Forskningsledelse: i zonen mellem tillid og kontrol

Inge Holm

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


Traditionally academic researchers have managed themselves in self-evaluating ethos borne systems. However, as a consequence of public policy changes, researchers have been challenged during the last decades by increasing societal demands for efficiency, social responsibility and wealth creation. At the same time, the public has lost confidence in the ability of researchers to singlehandedly evaluate the quality of their research products, leading to increased control in the shape of bureaucratic administration. Such demands and control mechanisms seem to highly contradict the traditional image of the independent researcher who adheres only to the norms and standards of her own scientific community.Several social science theorists have evaluated the impact of public policy changes on the autonomic researcher identity. It has been described how these changes call for new strategies of research management that may balance societal requirements with scientists’ desire for freedom of research. However, these theories have all had a macro perspective that did not include the researchers’ own perception. Thus, based on research work practice stories, the purpose of this thesis was to investigate in a micro perspective how research group leaders working in an externally funded research centre at Rigshospitalet (Copenhagen University Hospital) create meaning of their complex research work, while at the same time navigating in an increasingly bureaucratic institutional environment, and furthermore, what implications these narratives should have on the management of the research centre and its research employees. This led to the following thesis question: What stories about research add meaning to the group leaders’ research work and which are the consequences for research management? The question was examined qualitatively in semi-structured, narrative interviews with eight group leaders, each heading a thematic research group. The question guide was designed to motivate the group leaders to reflect on the bearing of their research identity and their daily research work. The empirical material was transcribed and edited into thematic citations that were analysed with inspiration from methods applied in recent narrative studies. The analysis 3 was discussed based on three thematic concepts: 1) Research as identity; 2) trust and control; 3) CIM/CFAS research management.Based on the discussion, the thesis concludes that the group leaders find their research work most meaningful when they have freedom of science and the possibility to conduct their research in a fashion that enables them to personally vouch for the quality. These concepts of freedom and quality seem to be embedded in the group leaders’ researcher identity, which they continuously struggle to maintain in an extremely personal formation project. Conversely the group leaders become frustrated and demotivated as research turns “meaningless” when their researcher identity is threatened by mistrust and controlpromoted bureaucracy. The main task of the CIM/CFAS research management is to secure the fulfilment of the centre’s ambitious vision to develop and disseminate evidence based physical activity as medicine to the Danish population, by use a unique translational research model. Thus, it is further concluded that taking into consideration the knowledge of what is meaningful to the group leaders in their daily work, the management may, in the present structure of divided leadership (professional/administrative), solve this task while at the same time supporting the researchers’ identity work by use of a narrative praxis that facilitates organisational story telling of the “freedom” and “possibilities” that exist within the wide frame of the research centre’s translational research model. In perspective, the findings of the present thesis point to the eligibility of investigating research management in an employee-driven micro view and that further studies are warranted in order to create a more valid theoretical basis.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages54