Kristina has been working at Stockholm Business School since 2015 but has a background as a doctoral student at Karolinska Institutet.

In her role as accreditation manager at Stockholm Business School, Kristina needs to see patterns, how things are connected and have a helicopter perspective. This way of thinking is the same as in her research.

Kristina Sundberg
Kristina Sundberg with her PhD thesis Educational leadership in health professions education

- I was a coordinator for an evaluation of the curriculum of the undergraduate medical programme at KI in 2009. I supported an expert panel and interviewed lots of teachers and different educational leaders, Kristina tells.

I heard how difficult it was to pedagogically develop the programme and I wanted to investigate it from a research perspective, she continues.

In 2011, Kristina was given the opportunity to do so and started as a postgraduate student at KI. The result is the thesis Educational leadership in health professions education.

 The aim of the thesis was to explore perceptions and experiences of educational leaders (for example course leaders) leading educational change and development in health professions and interprofessional education. The sensitising concepts of the thesis were power and resistance and the thesis hence adopted theoretical power perspectives on educational leadership and employed qualitative approaches within the methodological framework of phenomenology.

Study I (published) explore the experiences of educational leaders leading change and development within an undergraduate medical programme. The educational leaders perceived a lack of authority and status towards their colleagues as a result of an unclear mission, the fact that education had a low level of status at the university as well as a lack of traditional means of power. They also experience meeting resistance towards change and development in the shape of change fatigue, organisational obstacles and conservatism. Their opportunity to use influence towards change and development emerged from a high degree of freedom as well as the creation of so called vicarious legitimacies connected to research or clinical work, instead of education.

Study II (published) further explore the experiences of educational leaders in undergraduate medical education and their identity formation. The educational leaders expressed an ambiguity towards their identity as educational leaders as a result of both an unclear educational role as well as the perceived difficulties in leading colleagues towards educational change and development. The educational leaders seldom experienced receiving feedback on their work from higher levels of the institution, which in turn lead them to feel that their role was mostly of a symbolic character. However, the status of being an educational leader was confirmed from time to time by other educational leaders as well as colleagues with a special interest in education.

Study III (manuscript) explore the experiences of educational leaders leading change and development within a nursing programme. The educational leaders expressed the means of achieving educational change and development as building relationships with colleagues as well as using the elaborate decision-making structures of the programme. Experiences of resistance towards change were perceived as originating from lack of authority, organisational structures and memories, and intrinsic avoidance of leadership.

Study IV (published) explore interprofessional education (IPE) as an example of educational change and development. A comparison of the definition, rationale and presentation of IPE between educational leaders and official policy documents revealed how underlying differences of meaning attached to IPE can create potential difficulties regarding implementation. Successful implementation postulates transparent and clear senior leadership support within an higher education institution.

Read PhD thesis Educational leadership in health professions education