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The Nordic PhD

Surviving and Succeeding

Edited By Christopher McMaster, Caterina Murphy and Jakob Rosenkrantz de Lasson

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding is an edited book written for prospective and current doctoral students by a mix of doctoral students and those who have recently completed their doctorates. The premise is simple: if you could go back in time and talk with yourself when you began your studies, what advice would you give? Isn’t hindsight a bonus? If only I knew then what I know now!

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding follows editions focused on study in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., U.S., and South Africa. What sets The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding apart from many others on the market is its down-to-earth and practical approach. Furthermore, its originality also lies in the fact that it is grounded in the context of doctoral studies in the Nordic countries.

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Chapter Fifteen: Boundary Spanning Research: The Industrial PhD (Carsten Lund Pedersen)


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Boundary Spanning Research

The Industrial PhD



There is a unique PhD program in Denmark which is entitled ‘the Industrial PhD program’.1 The program is unique in the sense that the student is employed by a host organization or company to conduct a research project—while simultaneously being enrolled as a doctoral student at a university. The industrial PhD student must not only conduct research while he or she is embedded within the organization, obtain academic PhD training at the university and live up to the same formal requirements as traditional PhD students—they must also manage the diverse interests of both the host organization and the university.

For an industrial PhD student, this setup can be both immensely rewarding as well as challenging. It is rewarding as you will have the chance to immerse yourself in an organization throughout the entire project period, with a chance to gain unique access to data. It is likely that your research results will subsequently be applied in ‘the real world’ and not ‘only’ disseminated in research papers. However, it can be challenging as you are required to span the boundaries between the host organization and the academic world, where you will need to deal with conflicting interests between these domains, as well as internal organizational politics. These issues can be overwhelming, as the necessary experience in dealing with industrial PhDs...

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