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About the grounding (more)

Grounding in research

The design of and the way of analyzing the answers in Relagram has its grounding within a research tradition called phenomenography. Phenomenography is focusing on relations between persons and their surrounding world, and describes how persons relate to and understand different phenomena. Relagram is about the relation between a person/group and own work. The tool also has its grounding in a research methodology called contextual analysis. Contextual analysis develops knowledge about phenomena, in this case relation to own work, through distinguishing main parts of the phenomenon, and their meanings as dependent on their contexts.

The phenomenographic research orientation was developed from 1970 by a research group at University of Gothenburg. Lennart Svensson is one of the founders. The research orientation has been spread and developed nationally and internationally. Many research projects and PhD-thesis have been carried out within the orientation (especially in Sweden, other Nordic countries, Great Britain, Australia, Hong Kong and also in other places). Characteristic of the research orientation is that it has descriptions of persons’ qualitatively different understandings of the same phenomenon as a fundamental and central part of investigations. There is an extensive literature about the research carried out. A description of the main principles behind the research is given by Svensson (1997). Comprehensive descriptions of phenomenographic research are given by Marton et al (1997) och Marton & Booth (1997).

The tool Relagram is about ways of conceptualizing and relating to own work. There are two previous PhD works that specifically concern conceptions of and ways of relating to own work. One is Sandbergs (1994) study of the relation of engine optimizers at Volvo to their work, and the other Lindberg-Sands (1996) study of becoming nurses’ development of their relation to clinical practice. The development of the Relagram tool has a more recent background in a research project carried out within the fourth program of the EU-commission called the LATIO-project (In Company Training and Learning in Organisations). The project surveyed learning environments in knowledge intensive parts of multinational companies in Denmark, The Netherlands, Ireland, Great Britain and Sweden. Lennart Svensson was coordinator of the project and it is described by Svensson (2002) and (2009). The project was inspired by a phenomenographic orientation and a contextual methodology. However, the project did not involve any direct use of the Relagram tool.

Characteristic of contextual analysis as research methodology is that it is analytic by clearly delimiting research objects, parts of the investigated objects, and relations between these parts. The analysis is at the same time contextual in that the delimiting and establishing of meaning of objects, parts of objects, and relations between parts, are made in a mutually dependent interpretive way. The methodology is described by Svensson (1986, 2004) and Svensson and Doumas (2013). More specific methodological characteristics are described in different empirical work, among others the above referred to investigations. In Relagram a person’s or group’s relation to own work is assumed to be complex and include several parts, which are dependent on each other. Some central parts are focused on in the tool. The contextual approach means that the meaning of those parts is seen as dependent on and has to be interpreted in their context.

The here presented specific Relagram tool has been developed by HRD consultant Arne Hedeboe Andersson and professor Lennart Svensson in cooperation, based on the phenomenographic research orientation and the contextual analytic methodology. The tool is based on an interview method developed by Arne Hedeboe Andersson and Lennart Svensson, and used by Arne Hedeboe Andersson in work as consultant for companies and organizations. The tool Relagram forms part of the interview method, which is more extensive than the internet based Relagram tool. The interview method also has been used in a project financed by EU’s interregional development fund.

The development project was about Intecultural leadership in the Öresund region and was carried out headed by Copenhagen Buisness school (docent Lise Lyck). The project was carried out from 2005 to 2008. Arne Hedeboe Andersson, working in the project, was using the Relagram tool as part of the investigation (not the internet based version), and Lennart Svensson participated as scientific advisor in the project. The aim of the project was to investigate differences and similarities in leadership within service and commodity producing companies in Denmark and Sweden. Participants in the project were three companies; Gambro AB, Länsförsäkringar och Carlsberg A/S. 40 managers participated in extensive interviews where Relagram was a part. The project has been described in a research report from Copenhagen Business School (Lyck 2008).


Lindberg-Sand, Å. (1996). Spindeln i Klistret. Den kliniska praktikens betydelse för utveckling av yrkeskomtetens som sjuksköterska. En etnografisk-fenomenografisk studie. Lund:Lunds universitet, Pedagogisika institutionen.

Lyck, L. (Ed). Intercultural Leadership in the Øresund Region, CBS,Copenhagen,2008.

Marton, F. & Booth, S: (1997). Learning and Awareness. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Marton, F. Hounsell, D. & Entwistle, N. (1997) The Experience of Learning. Implications for Teaching and Studying in Higher Education (2nd edition). Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.

Sandberg, J. (1994). Human competence at work – an interpretative approach. Göteborg: BAS ekonomiska förening.

Svensson, L. (1986). Three approaches to descriptive research. I P. D. Ashworth, A. Giorgi & A. J. J. Koning (red.) Qualitative Research in Psychology. Proceedings of the International Association for Qualitative Research. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.

Svensson (1997). Theoretical foundations of phenomenography. Higher Education research & Develpopment, 16(2), 159-171.

Svensson, L. (2002). Learning Environments of Knowledge Intensive Company units in Five European Countries. Final report. The European Commission,

Svensson, L. (2004). Forskningsmetoders analytiska och kontextuella kvaliteter I C-M Allwood (red.) Perspektiv på kvalitativ metod. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Svensson, L. (2009). Learning environments of employees in knowledge intensive company units. I C. Velde (red.) International Perspectives on Competence in the Workplace. Implications for Research, Policy and Practice. London: Springer.

Svensson, L. & Doumas, K. (2013). Contextual and Analytic Qualities of Research Methods Exemplified in Research on Teaching. Qualitative Inquiry, Vol. 19 Issue 6, p.441-450. (DOI: 10.1177/1077800413482097).

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