Exploring university boards and extending collaboration in the medieval city of Toruń, Poland

Collegium Minus – one of the university campuses, housing the institute of Sociology, in which I spent my research visit (picture: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Wydzia%C5%82_Humanistyczny_UMK_w_Toruniu_N._Chyli%C5%84ska.JPG)

13.12.2023 / Marjukka Mikkonen

Greetings from Toruń, Poland, renowned as the ”gingerbread capital” of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I have had the pleasure of spending a three-month research visit here at the Nicolaus Copernicus University (NCU) in Toruń with support through the “Excellence Initiative – Research University” program at the NCU. The aim of the research visit was to engage in deeper collaboration with our ongoing research project on university boards and councils in European Universities, share knowledge and expertise, and to provide ground for further collaboration between the two institutions.

For me, as a recently appointed postdoctoral researcher, this opportunity to transition to a new research environment, immerse myself in an international academic milieu, and expand my professional network has been truly valuable. This three-month journey, spanning from October to December 2023, has provided me with fresh perspectives that I believe will significantly enhance my research .

In this short blog post, I will share some of my experiences during this research visit, as well as shed light on key aspects of our ongoing research project focused on university boards.

Deepening collaborative ties

During the visit we deepened the collaborative ties between the two institutions, especially between the department of Science and Higher Education Research at the NCU and unit of administrative sciences at the TAU. Besides my visit, another researcher from Tampere University, Doctoral researcher Luiz de Andrade Alonzo, joined us for a one-week research visit, during which we were able to focus full on with analysis and writing of research articles. As a concrete output of the visit we aim to submit one research article, blog post and also kicked off work on writing a couple of more manuscripts that will be submitted within the first half of 2024. It’s a testament to the power of bringing minds together across borders. I believe that this enables further collaborations with the two research groups.

A unique comparative research project on university boards and councils

Now, let me spill the beans on our exciting project. At the moment, we are in the phase of analyzing the rich survey data collected during summer 2023 across five European countries: Finland, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, and Portugal. Our primary aim is to dissect and compare the roles and functioning of university boards and councils, with a specific focus on the perspectives of board members. This is a novel perspective that has not received much attention in academic debates. However, the board members perspective is important as individuals make and shape organizations. The comparative perspective enables us to identify differences and similarities between the different institutional and national contexts providing novel insights into the ever-evolving landscape of university governance.

Dominik Antoniwicz, leader of the Research group Higher Education, Technology and Science Research Group at NCU, Luiz de Andrade Alonzo and myself after an intensive day of analysis and writing (picture: Marjukka Mikkonen)

What’s next?

As December unfolds, we have started an intense analysis and writing phase. We’re diving into the survey results, fine-tuning our drafts, and gearing up for a writing spree. We’re hoping to have some of the results published already next year. So, stay tuned for updates!


Marjukka Mikkonen

Postdoctoral Researcher, Administrative Sciences, Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University

Visiting researcher at the University Center of Excellence IMSErt: Interacting Minds, Societies, Environments, & Higher Education, Technology and Science Research Group at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland



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