Professor's portrait: Tobias Johansson-Berg
Tobias Johansson-Berg, Professor of Business Administration. School of Business Society and Engineering , Division of Economy and Political Science.
Please tell us briefly about your academic career – what decisions have brought you to where you are today?
The famous banana peel led me to the academia. I had been on a placement as an auditor’s assistant during my educational studies and those experiences meant that I didn’t feel I was in a hurry to start working life. When I wrote my degree thesis, I was encouraged to apply for the doctoral programme. This was something that I had only vague notions of what it entailed because no one in my family had an academic education. I thought I would try it for six months, which was how it started! A type of class and education journey which several of my generation managed to undertake thanks to the expansion of higher education.
After completing my Master’s degree, I started my doctoral studies at the University of Gothenburg in 2002. In 2004, I was awarded my Degree of Licentiate and publicly defended my doctoral thesis in 2006. After a few years working as acting senior lecturer and consultant, I was offered an associate senior lectureship at Örebro University in 2008. During 2017, I worked as a Professor at Karlstad University and then returned as a senior lecturer at Örebro University up until 2021 when I was appointed Professor at MDU.
In what area do you conduct research?
I primarily conduct research in organisational control, the organisation of welfare services, but I also conduct research on trust.
How would you describe your research environment at MDU?
Research in Business Administration at MDU has over the years enjoyed a rapid and strong development. Disregarding mere staff numbers, we now have a complete research environment with several strong areas where we compare well with established universities in Sweden and abroad.
What is the driving force in your research?
If we were to remove all external demands, desires and constant evaluations that have unfortunately become an external driving force (whip) in themselves at the universeties, my motivations are probably similar to those of many other researchers. A mixture of a genuine curiosity to find out stuff, a tangible need for control and a strong work ethic. The first is required to formulate good research questions and the others to answer them.
Which research domains are particularly important for you?
The organisation of the welfare state. After democracy and the rule of law, the welfare state is the most significant social innovation in human history. It is important to manage and develop the organisations that maintain welfare to preserve its legitimacy and potential.
How do you feel about becoming a Professor given that MDU has recently become an official University?
It’s really exciting. With my experience from another younger university, I know that the first 10 years are very positive. Growing pains which are enjoyable. And as we are now a University, there is a huge responsibility on the Professors to ensure that we develop our sense of being a university, which feels meaningful.
What's the best part about conducting research at MDU?
My first time here was coloured by the pandemic for me with all that it entails, which is why it’s difficult for me to answer that question.