F. Chandler

University of British Columbia (CANADA)
In theory and in practice, engaging in collaborative research can provide an opportunity to learn about leadership and to obtain new knowledge from a diverse group that has a myriad of skills and expertise. The benefits may at times be matched or overshadowed by challenges, however, and collaborative projects funded by the Canadian government are no different.
Over the past 10 years, a premier funder of Canadian academic social science and humanities research has been the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Over time this council has been espousing and funding collaborative projects that involve inter and cross disciplinary, national, and international, collaborations. The council believes that these kinds of projects support inclusiveness, excellence, independence, impact, learning, building capacity and accountability.
It is generally accepted that collaborative projects are cost effective and can yield social, economic, and political results that benefit society. They can also be highly successful or dismal failures. In many instances the outcome can be predicated on the type of leadership exercised within the group.
This presentation explores the importance of leadership as experienced by university based researchers who were or are engaged in SSHRC funded collaborative research at a mid-sized university in Canada. The qualitative study, undertaken for this presentation, is situated within a social constructivist-paradigm and involves responses from 12 researchers who answered 11 questions related to collaboration and leadership. The study took place over a four month time period in the fall of 2009.
The study culminates in a discussion of the kind of leader that might be best in an academic, taxpayer funded, collaborative research group.