Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist


Department of Business Administration
Visiting address
Vasagatan 1
41124 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 610
40530 Göteborg


Gothenburg Research Institute
Visiting address
Viktoriagatan 13, plan 3
41125 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 603
40530 Göteborg

About Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist

Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist, B.Sc., Ph.D., Docent, is since 2010 professor in organization theory and management, School of Business, Economics, and Law, University of Gothenburg. She defended her Ph.D. thesis in business administration at the department for Business Administration, School of Business, Economics, and Law, University of Gothenburg in 2000. In 2007 she became docent (habilitation) in business administration at GRI. Between 2012 and 2023 she was the director of GRI. During 2014 and 2015 she was the chair of the Swedish Academy of Business and Management. She has been active as associated editor for the journal Gender, Work and Organization (ABS3) between the years of 2004 and 2020. Since 2017 she is heading the research program Managing Digital Transformations.

Her research interests concern organizing, especially technology, governance in professional organizations, diversity and inclusion. These themes have been explored in a variety of organizations, both in private and public sector, for instance in multinational corporations, the automotive industry, the public school, and the Swedish Defense Authority. She has published in the field of organization theory and management studies, including journal articles, research monographs, and textbooks. Her latest book is edited with Magnus Hansson and Fredrik Nilsson (2020):Theories and perspectives in Swedish Business Administration Studies.

She is a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Engineering (2020).

Current project with Kerstin Sahlin, Uppsala University:

Academic collegiality: An international comparative project

The higher education and research system is both accommodating and reproducing a continuous dilemma. On the one hand, following Humboldtian ideals, research and higher education is expected to be run by autonomous interrelated academic communities. This is often described as collegial governance. On the other hand, research and higher education is an instrument for the fulfillment of certain goals external to the academic community. Governance and control are then tailored as means to fulfill these. In practice those forms of governance tend to be formed in line with bureaucratic or enterprise models. As a consequence of this continuous dilemma, universities and higher education and system or which they are a part, become meeting points for various governance models. Different ways of governing express different aims of higher education and research and hence different views on what is to be governed, by whom and with what means.

Universities are among the oldest and most sustainable institutions on earth. At the same time, throughout centuries and decades academic systems over the world have experienced recurrent transformations in the way they are governed. These transformations follow societal and political changes, waves of organizational reforms and the erosion of faculty authority. Research on such governance transformations have shown how higher education and research have been subject to rationalization and organizing according to widely spread bureaucratic and enterprise (often also termed as managerial) ideas and ideals. These reforms do not seem to have followed a grand plan but have been introduced piece by piece and they have only partly been tied to changed missions, tasks and roles of research and higher education. Even so, it is clear that changed modes of governance have both been pushed by and led to changes in the missions, roles and tasks of higher education and research. Means of governance change both what is to be governed and by whom.

Studies of individual universities, national university systems and international comparisons have documented and analyzed changes of governance, what drives them and with what consequences. As is the case more generally for studies of changed and reformed governance, we would argue, they focus more on what is new than on what is left behind, dissolved or teared down. Previous and challenged modes of governing are likely to be taken for granted, or referred to as something well known. It may even be the case that the lack of clarifications and analysis of those forms of governance that are being challenged make them less likely to sustain.

Recent changes of university systems, debates on academic freedom, and changing roles of knowledge in society all point to questions regarding how higher education and research should be governed and what role scientists and faculty have. Rationalizations of systems of higher education and research have gone hand in hand with an erosion of faculty authority and challenged academic collegiality. But what is academic collegiality, how can it work in practice, what role do they presuppose for academic faculty in processes of governance and what are the conditions for collegiality to work? We see a need for a more conceptually precise discussion on what academic collegiality is, how it is practiced, how collegial forms of governance may be supported or challenged by other forms of governance and, finally, why collegial governance of higher education and research is important.

The study compares understandings of academic collegiality and collegial procedures across the world. With this study we strive to get insights into procedures that result from the encounter between diverse modes of governing. We conceive of collegiality as an essentially contested concept and already a quick review of what is happening across the world shows that challenges as well as understandings, procedures, context and governance mix vary across the globe. To situate academic collegiality in such diverse setting, to capture the contestations and to develop answers to the questions posed above the project is set up as a thematic comparative project where different study objects are in focus for each empirical study while comparations are done in a continuous dialogue across settings.

The project is led by Kerstin Sahlin, Uppsala university and Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist. The international partners are: Francisco Ramirez, Stanford University and Seungah Lee, New York University ; Nico Cloete and Francois Van Schalkwyk, Stellenboch University; Rick Delbridge, University of Cardiff, Paolo Quattrone, University of Manchester and Jakov Jandric, University of Edinburgh; Michael Lounsbury and Logan Crace, University of Alberta and Joel Gehamn The George Washington University; Jean-Louis Denis, University of Montreal and Nancy Côté, Université Laval; Gili Drori, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ravit Mizrahi-Shtelman, Kibbutzin College; Hokyu Hwang, University of New South Wales; Georg Krücken, University of Kassel and Anna Kosmützky, University of Kassel; Simon Marginson, Oxford University; Christine Musselin and Audrey Harroche, Science Po; Pedro Pineda, University of Bath; Paolo Quattrone, University of Manchester; Peter Walgenbach, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena; Wen Wen, Tsinghua University; and Yong Suk Yang, Yonsei University.

Hampus Östh Gustafsson, Johan Boberg, Tina Hedmo and Caroline Waks from Uppsala University also participate in this study.

The project is partly funded by Vetenskapsrådet and by Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser.

On other web sites

Research areas

  • Management
  • Organizing
  • Digitalisation
  • Diversity

Teaching areas

  • Culture, institutional theory
  • Organization theory history
  • Methodology
  • Management, Leadership