Cecilia Bjursell new Associate Professor

Collaboration and quality are key concepts that often appear when talking about the governance and management of organizations. But what do they mean exactly? And what are the consequences for the organization if we put a different meaning to the concepts? That is the focus of Cecilia Bjursell’s research.

On 4 December, Cecilia Bjursell held her docent lecture "Collaboration and quality in education management" at the School of Education and Communication.

During the lecture, Cecilia Bjursell talked about how concepts like "synergy" and "quality" can give the illusion of cohesion and mutual understanding in an organization, while they can complicate problem resolution and further development.

“’Big words’ such as collaboration and quality have an ambiguous character. On a surface level, they can give individuals in an organization direction, focus and a feeling of unity, while further analysis shows that different interpretations exist side by side. This can become problematic if one idea is put forward as dominant in relation to the others, something that often occurs”, she explained.

During the lecture, she presented a recent empirical study that illustrates the co-existing beliefs around the concept of collaboration within the academy.

“Cooperation between Swedish universities and the surrounding society is enshrined in the Higher Education Act as a central task linked to research and teaching. Moreover, there are many stakeholders in the community who demand increased collaboration. But if we look closely at the arguments we find that they don’t want the same content.”

Cecilia Bjursell also explained that there is a core group that is rarely asked in the discussion of collaboration and quality, namely, researchers and teachers. To illustrate the differences, she presented a model of what she calls cooperation zones.

“Researchers and teachers think of interaction as something that takes place in many different contexts and with many different kinds of actors both within and outside the academy. When industry and students talk about collaboration, they mean the interaction between the university and an external actor.”

Cecilia Bjursell defended her doctoral thesis in business administration in 2007 at Linköping University. Her current research focuses mainly on two areas: knowledge and learning in organizations and education management.