Collaboration and learning are vital for development in all sectors of society and there is a constant need for new ideas, innovation and development. Crucial for dealing with contemporary complex challenges on a local, regional, national and global scale is a need for the inclusion of many perspectives and competences. However, collaboration is never friction free but challenging. A reason for this might be that there are different expectations on goals and outcomes due to that collaborating organizations bring different contexts, Inter-organisational collaborations, cultures, traditions etc. These challenges are addressed by several approaches for university-society collaboration, e.g. Work-Integrated Learning (WIL), University-Industry-Government (Triple-helix), University Community Partnership (UCP), and Public Private Academic Partnership (PPAP). These are all aiming at planning, performing, compiling and leveraging knowledge exchange and co-creating sustainable results. What is less developed is what genuine impact such results do have on society, i.e. societal impacts. Thus, there is a need for gaining more knowledge in research about what key mechanisms that constitutes successful collaboration between academia and various public and private organizations in research projects.

This conceptual paper explores the underlying concepts of principles that are used as guidelines for successful university-society collaboration. It draws on a literature review of key concepts selected from established frameworks and models that are current in the field of university-society collaboration, e.g. co-creation, trust, relationship building. The aim of the paper is to gain deeper insights in the complex dynamics of research collaboration by combining previous models with current research literature and suggest implications for both model development as well as principles of conduct when societal impact are to be ensured in university-society collaboration. Hence, the research questions to be addressed in this paper are: What are the key concepts that underlie the dynamics of university-society collaboration in the research literature? How can successful university-society collaboration be conceptualized in order to facilitate co-creation and societal impact?