Department of Business Studies

Research projects

Transnational organising of public private constellations

In the project ”Transnational organizing of public private initiatives” (TOPP) we investigate transnational public private cooperation. Such cooperation takes many different forms, ranking from formally set up public private partnerships to developed networks and dialogues. Empirically the project focuses on recent public private initiatives in the area of development cooperation. While the involvement of business corporations in state led development cooperation has a long history we now see a much more actively organised, publicly communicated and transnationally linked cooperation. One example of this is found on the website of the Swedish development cooperation agency (Sida) where a large section is dedicated to private public initiatives. On this website it is announced that “Tomorrow's solutions for poverty reduction are increasingly focused on building partnerships involving states as well as the business sector and civil society.”  The initiatives taken within Sida are paralleled, inspired and driven by developments of CSR within business cooperation as well as, for example, the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In theoretical terms this project builds on previous research on public private relations, translation, transnational governance, the circulation of ideas, institutional complexity and ambiguity and the role of corporation in global society. The project aims to add to developments of these streams of institutional analysis. 

Project leader: Kerstin Sahlin, professor
Project members: Stefan Arora-Jonsson, professor, Josef Pallas, docent , Maria Hoff Rudhult, PhD Student, Johanna Rein, PhD Student. All work at the Department of Business Studies at Uppsala University.
Duration: 2015-2020
Financed by: The Swedish Research Council (VR)

Management structures and mediatization of governmental agencies - translations and consequences (VetenskapsRådet)

There are many empirical and theoretical arguments to regard media as a central part of governance in public sector organisations. Not only do media scrutinize and critically examine the actions of these organisations and their representatives. Media also represent one of the dominant influences permeating managerial structures, practices and rationales under which public sector organisations operate.

In this project we refer to such an importance of the media (and the changes it leads to) as mediatisation. By way of extensive interview-based data and rich ethnographical material from five Swedish governmental agencies we seek to understand and explain the dynamics in the manner governmental agencies deal and respond to the pressures of mediatisation, and what consequences this have for the activities performed by the agencies.

With respect to different managerial structures (i.e. single-director agencies, board agencies and council agencies) our study is guided by three questions concerning the agencies’ mediatisation:

  1. how and why do responses and adaptation to mediatisation varies between different types of organisations within the public sector;
  2. how and why does the process of mediatisation unfold differently when it is translated into specific contexts within and between the studied organisations;
  3. in what way does the process of mediatisation influence and transform the type and character of activities performed by the organisation.

Project leader: Josef Pallas

How news is created  - a multi-actor perspective on business news production 

Business news is an extensive part of the daily news flow which create both opportunities and challenges for companies that want to be seen but also avoid critical scrutiny. This project aims to examine how business news is produced by employing a multi-actor approach, i.e. we seek to examine how different actors individually and in collaborations influence the content and form of news production and distribution. We seek to illuminate the consequences of such a co-creative process - especially considering the highly organized and formalised relationships among the various actors that are involved in production and distribution of business news. Methodologically, the project takes a multi-site ethnographic approach to collect material from several actors involved in news production.

Project leader: Josef Pallas

ENTREPRENEURIAL NETWORKING IN DIFFERENT NATIONAL CONTEXTS

The Western myopia impregnates entrepreneurial network research leading to a dominating assumption that networking practices are generic rather than locally bounded activities and that networks are structured in a homogenous way globally. The aim of the project is to attend to the dearth of research that address cultural differences in the meanings, structures and practices of entrepreneurial networks and tap into what the cultural relational patterns are that cause these differences. More specifically, drawing on qualitative and quantitative data from Israel, Chile, Uganda, India, Sweden and the US, the project aims to address the following research questions:

  • What are the entrepreneurial networking practices in different national cultures, whether and how do they differ, and what are the cultural mechanisms that create these differences?
  • What is the meaning that entrepreneurs place on their specific social networks in different cultures? For example, how do they make sense of weak versus strong ties, or long-term versus short-term relationships?
  • What does the structure of an entrepreneur’s network look like across national sites?

Project members: Sara Värlander, Associate Professor, Stockholm University School of Business. Affiliated Researcher CASL, Ingela Sölvell, PhD, Center for Advanced Studies in Leadership, Stockholm School of Economics, Kim Klyver, Professor, Institut for Entreprenörskap och Relationsledelse, Syddansk Universitet.
Duration: 2015-2018
Financed by: Marianne and Marcus Wallenbergs foundation 

Organisational consequences of competition. How do schools change when they are made to compete?

The purpose of this project is to develop new knowledge on how competition affects organisations. Competition is supposed to improve resource use, innovativeness and responsiveness of organisations, but evaluators are often puzzled to often find very small, or even opposite, effects. The project is motivated by the widespread practice to encourage competition among and within all sorts of organisations, in spite of its seemingly contradictory results. Research has, this far, investigated only the effects of different levels of competition, while ignoring the effects of preparing an organisation to compete. We develop a theoretical framework of how competition affects organisations that includes the transition of organisations to competition, as well as their operation under competition. We propose to use this framework to investigate the organisational effects of the introduction of competition in the Swedish education system. In four interrelated empirical studies we ask:

  1. what the organisational consequences are of breaking up municipal provision of education, 
  2. how it influences the professional role of teachers when their school is made to compete, 
  3. whether the experience of losing students motivates improvements or leads to dysfunctional responses among schools and
  4. how the comparing aspect of competition changes schools as organisations. 

The project opens new fields of investigation, and helps practitioners and policy maker understand what competition does to organisations.

Project members: Stefan Arora-Jonsson (PI), Maria Blomgren, Caroline Waks and Niklas Bomark.
Financed by: The Swedish Research Council (VR). 

HERA – Higher Education and Research Administration

Expanded administration and increasing administrative work is challenging the public sector. Previous research suggests that these changes influence professionals and their work, shifting power and responsibility from politicians and governance actors towards administrative personnel and managers. This expansion in administrative work has followed in the wake of extensive reforms of the public sector.

The purpose of this project is to further understand the content, shape and implications of changing administration in professionally dominated organisations. Our empirical focus is on universities. Our research question reads:

How is administrative work in public sector organisations changing in scope, content and form, and what are the implications of these developments for public organisations and professional work?

Theoretically we start from the idea that modern universities are subject to institutional pressures from regulatory, normative and mimetic forces. This lead to responses in terms of (1) the hiring of new kind of professionals dealing with tasks such as communication, internationalisation, and evaluation, (2) an increasing involvement of academic professionals in administration. We develop a framework to analyse changes in administrative routines and structures on three different levels (top administration, faculty and department). We will collect data from ten Swedish Universities; university catalogues, archival material and interviews will be analysed.

Project members: Linda Wedlin (PI), Josef Pallas, Signe Jernberg, Tina Hedmo, Anders Forssell, Petya Burneva, och Lars Engwall.
Duration: 2016-2019.
Financed by: Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation. 

Organised Freedom: University governance and the higher education and research reforms in Sweden

University autonomy is a keyword in current reforms of university governance systems in Sweden and beyond. Through explicit autonomy reforms, universities are expected to become more capable actors, less dependent on governmental largesse, and more reliant on their own competitiveness. As part of larger governance changes in this field, these reforms raise questions about what autonomy means and what implications it has for steering and control in the university field. What does it mean to be an autonomous university? We will analyse the emergence and the organisational implications of this reform, and its consequences for the Swedish university field. The autonomy reform has created an almost unique opportunity to study organisational responses to autonomy reforms in real time, and to analyse how the concept and principles of autonomy are given meaning in a particular national context.

From a theoretical perspective, this provides the opportunity to better understand how systems and principles of governance, or what we term governance logics, develop and change in this field. Analysing in turn the 1) growth and development, 2) implementation and organisational expressions, and 3) field dynamics of the autonomy reform, this project will combine detailed case studies with quantitative analysis of change processes in order to provide detailed accounts of the current transformation of Swedish universities into autonomous actors.

Project members: Linda Wedlin (PI), Josef Pallas, Tina Hedmo, Niklas Bomark, Signe Jernberg, Peter Edlund, Anna Niklasson, Daniel Löfgren.
Duration: 2013-2017.
Financed by: Vetenskapsrådet, Utbildningsvetenskapliga kommittén.