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What are the prerequisites for a successful industrial PhD education collaboration?
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Business Administration. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1991-4588
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Media and Design. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2118-2152
2022 (English)In: International Conference on Work Integrated Learning: Abstract Book, Trollhättan: University West , 2022, p. 87-89Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background

University-industry collaboration is a widespread phenomenon in response to complex societal challenges. All sectors of society struggle to meet contemporary challenges by including various perspectives and competences (Bernhard and Olsson, 2020; Olsson et al., 2021; Stegeager and Thomassen, 2021). There is a need to continuously learn at work and redevelop work practices by relating to new concepts, technologies, and organizational principles. University-industry interactions are of importance for mutual learning in higher education as well as in industry (Bölling & Eriksson, 2016; Olsson et al., 2021). Universities have an essential role supporting life -long learning and acting as knowledge hubs embedded in society (Lind et al., 2013) providing trained res earchers prepared to meet these challenges (Altbach et al., 2019; Hayes, 2021). There is an emerging interest for collaboration with university in third-cycle education as the importance of PhD education is recognized in contemporary society (Bernhard & Olsson, 2020; Bin et al., 2016; Borrell-Damian et al., 2010; Gill & Mullarkey, 2015; Gustavsson et al., 2016; Jones, 2018; Roolaht, 2015). European higher education policies call for PhD educations that are transformed along with societal needs and labor markets for PhDs. Especially since PhD education does not merely aim for academic careers (Malfroy, 2011; Santos & Patricio, 2020; Valencia -Forrester, 2019). Industrial PhD education is emerging as one way of increasing collaboration between university and wo rklife during the PhD education. Industrial PhD students here refer to students who originate from and are fully employed in industry (industry funded) during their PhD education, i.e., the company is investing in an employee to become a PhD. Accordingly, industrial PhD students are acting in the intersection of academia and work-life, but with the same academic demands as traditionally enrolled academic PhD students. One transdisciplinary approach to increase collaboration between university and society is work-integrated learning (WIL) to integrate theoretical knowledge with practice work bridging research, higher education, and practice for mutual learning outcomes (Bates, 2008; Billett, 2009; 2014; Gellerstedt et al., 2015; 2018; Rampersad, 2015). WIL is here applied as theory and a model for academia-society collaboration aiming at knowledge exchange and research together with industry.

Aim

The aim of this study is to expand research on university-industry collaboration by focusing on industrial PhD education exploring the prerequisites for a successful industrial PhD education collaboration. This paper reveals the perspectives of industrial PhD students, university, and industry.

Methodology

Qualitative methods are applied to capture several disciplines and perspectives during three years (2019-2022).The empirical research context is University West in Sweden. The sample includes three categories of respondents (in total 38): 19 industrial PhD students within the three disciplines of Work-integrated Learning, Informatics with a specialization in WIL, and Production Technology; nine representatives from academia and 10 respondents from industry. The academy perspective was represented by the main supervisors and head of PhD education. The industry perspective was represented by industrial supervisors/mentors covering both the private and public sectors. WIL is applied as a theoretical lens to identify the perspectives of industrial PhD students, academia, and industry. All collected data was analysed to identify patterns and themes following iterative phases, as the perspectives of industrial PhD students, academia and industry were explored along the progression of the theoretical framework and collected data.

Findings and Conclusion

Findings show that industrial PhD students are contributing to learning by acting in the intersection of university and industry across PhD education and research. The mutual benefits of industrial PhD education collaboration such as access to data and current research, contextual understanding, are strongly emphasized by respondents. The relationship embraces industrial PhD education, research and collaboration generating work -integrated learning and understanding across sectors and industries. However, this study implicates that the following prerequisites need to be considered by university and industry to reach a successful industrial PhD education collaboration: (i) To operationalize continuous activities and processes that increase and strengthen the understanding and expectations during the entire industrial PhD education. Continuous dialogues and close interactions are needed to build long-term relations and trust for knowledge creation by operationalizing the collaboration in actions, practices, and routines over time. (ii) To design detailed formal agreementsfor industrial PhD education collaboration to avoid conflicts of interest and negative impacts on the industrial PhD students’ work conditions. (iii) To continuously maintain activities for industrial PhD students’ inclusion and access to dual contexts to ensure belonging, visibility and legitimacy. (iv) To integrate research in practice and practice in research. The scope of the industrial PhD students’ thesis needs to be carefully anchored in industry and research to achieve an integration of theory and practice based on a mutual understanding of the work -integrated learning approach. 

There are limitations as this study originates from one single university. The study was partly conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic which may have affected the results. Further research is of importance to deepen and broaden work-integrated learning in third-cycle collaborations to meet the demands and development of contemporary society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: University West , 2022. p. 87-89
Keywords [en]
university-industry collaboration, industrial PhD education, industrial PhD student, third-cycle education, work-integrated learning.
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects Business Administration Learning
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-19488ISBN: 9789189325302 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-19488DiVA, id: diva2:1720750
Conference
WIL'22 International Conference on Work Integrated Learning, 7-9 December 2022, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden
Note

The general theme of the conference is: “WIL in the service of society”

Acknowledgement

This study is partly funded by the LINA research environment (Learning in and for the new working life) at University West, Sweden.

Available from: 2022-12-20 Created: 2022-12-20 Last updated: 2023-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Olsson, Anna KarinBernhard, Iréne

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