Collaborating for Competition?

Unpacking Ambiguities and Paradoxes Across the Academic Profession




academic profession, competititon, collaboration, paradoxes, Nordic higher education


This paper unpacks the complexities, ambiguities and paradoxes associated with the concepts of competition and collaboration, using the academic profession in the Nordic countries as an empirical case. We relied on paradox theory to reconceptualise the relationship between competition and cooperation. Our analysis focused on the ways in which university-based academics in the Nordic countries navigate the tensions and paradoxes associated with the interplay between competition and cooperation while shedding light on the nestedness among various levels of analysis. The findings not only show that the competition–cooperation interplay is strongly present throughout multiple contradictory tensions, but also that the tensions and paradoxes identified act as push factors in the further development of the academic profession and the HE systems in which these are embedded.


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Author Biographies

Romulo Pinheiro, Department of Political Science and Management University of Agder, Norway

Rómulo Pinheiro is Professor of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Agder, Norway, where is also Deputy Head of Department for Political Science and Management. Rómulo’s research interests are located at the intersection of public policy and administration, organisational theory, economic geography, innovation and higher education studies.

Kirsi Pulkkinen, Finnish Science Center Association, Finland

Kirsi Pulkkinen is General Secretary of the Finnish Science Center Association. She has a doctoral degree in administrative sciences from the University of Lappland, Finland. Her expertise lies in societal interaction between researchers and other actors, and evidence-based policy-making.





How to Cite

Pinheiro, R., & Pulkkinen, K. (2023). Collaborating for Competition? : Unpacking Ambiguities and Paradoxes Across the Academic Profession. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, 27(1), 53–73.