Niklas Lundström

D.Adm.Sc., Regional Studies, 2015
Senior Specialist in Doctoral Education, University of Vaasa Graduate School
Niklas Lundström Vaasan yliopisto

Niklas Lundström's doctoral thesisWicked game of regional development was reviewed on Wednesday 3 June 2015.

What is your work like?

I have a very varied role. I coordinate the doctoral programme at the University of Vaasa and make sure that it works as a whole as it should. For example, I am involved in thinking about new funding models, and I compile information for students and supervisors about where to get funding. I also guide doctoral supervisors through the different stages of the dissertation process. One interesting task is the Cotutelle agreements, a doctoral degree that involves doing doctoral research in two different universities in two different countries.

How have your doctoral studies supported you in your current role?

In my current job, I am constantly dealing with and combining different components and entities. This is what my dissertation was about: how wholes and parts play together – sometimes in conflict – and how wholes are formed from individual parts and vice versa. The systems thinking applied in the dissertation, although it was in the field of regional studies, is also very applicable to organisations.

Of course, I benefit from having gone through the whole dissertation process myself. I can easily put myself in the position of a doctoral researcher, and I know what questions they are thinking about at each stage.

What are the highlights of your career?

I do not think of my career in terms of highlights. I see my career as a sort of progression; I am where I am now, and I like what I do. There has not been a morning yet that I would hate going to work. The coolest thing is that I get to do what I love and with really good people.

Why pursue a doctorate?

I had never thought of myself as a researcher. At undergraduate level, doing a thesis did not inspire me at all. But for my thesis, I found the wicked problems, and the topic drew me in. My thesis supervisor was Hannu Katajamäki, then professor of regional studies, who knew how to inspire. Under Hannu's guidance, I continued working on my dissertation, where I expanded and deepened the subject, and the context changed from municipality mergers to more extensive regional development.

How did you finance your doctoral studies?

I was lucky, I got the funding in place right when I was at the peak of my enthusiasm. I got a two-year grant and a four-year doctoral student position (nowadays called a doctoral researcher). I adjusted to the academic world very well, and I was teaching and working in the department, while working on my dissertation.

A tip for someone considering doctoral studies?

I would say it is worth serious consideration. It is a long and sometimes difficult path, but you get a lot out of it. It is a learning path worth taking! You learn a lot about your subject, and while you are creating something new, you also learn a lot about yourself. You learn to give constructive feedback, and above all, you learn to take in feedback. And yes, it is fun too, even though every dissertation process has its ups and downs, it is a time you will look back on fondly.