Automatgenererad bild.

Discussions in the coffee-break at the Mistra Programme Directors’ meeting, Högberga Gård, October 2012.

Published

2 July 2013

Programme organisation

In Mistra programmes, many people work together towards a common goal. It is important for the programme to have both research and user perspectives. To guarantee this, all Mistra programmes have a special organisation.

Host

Every Mistra programme has a programme host that gives the programme a domicile in an existing organisation. All research must have ties with one or more higher education institutions (HEIs), but the programme host is not necessarily an HEI: it may be a research institute, a company or some other organisation. Mistra itself never hosts its own programmes; instead, it is a pure research investor.

The programme host is responsible for:

  • ensuring that the programme is implemented
  • managing the funds allocated
  • inancial and legal administration, in cooperation with other bodies involved in implementing the research.

After Mistra’s board has decided that Mistra should invest in a programme, an agreement is drawn up between Mistra and the programme host. This ‘programme agreement’ regulates the relationship between Mistra and the programme host, and the terms and conditions for the finances and implementation of the programme.

Board

The programme host appoints a programme board in consultation with Mistra and following its approval. On behalf of the host, the board assumes overall responsibility for the focus, quality and finances of the programme. The programme board is intended to support the director in the work of the programme.

The board must not be too large, and normally has five to seven members. A majority must be planned users of the research results. The chair must enjoy an independent status in relation to the programme. No one working in the programme is permitted to be a board member.

The purpose of this board composition is to ensure an active user perspective throughout the life of the programme. Mistra’s programme director or other representative is a coopted member of the board. Accordingly, Mistra’s representative has the rights of attendance and expression, but no right to vote.

The functions of the programme board are:

  • to adopt plans and a budget for the programme, based on its aims
  • to decide on, manage and monitor the research conducted in the programme
  • to determine how the strategic reserve of the programme is used
  • to monitor the financial outcome of the programme in relation to the budget
  • to work for active participation by businesses and other users, and ensure that information about the programme and research results is communicated effectively
  • to ensure that research results are used
  • to issue operational instructions for the programme director
  • to appoint, and define the tasks of, any reference groups
  • to provide proposals for a revised programme plan, in cooperation with the programme host
  • to issue annual reviews of operations (annual reports)
  • to issue a final report.

The programme board must have at least three meetings a year, but often has four or five. The chair of the board convenes the meetings. A majority of the following are also entitled to convene meetings when necessary: the members, the programme director and Mistra or the programme host. Minutes of the meetings are kept and sent both to Mistra and to the programme host.

Director

Heading a Mistra programme means directing operational work in the programme, across the boundaries between research and practice and among various academic disciplines. The programme director is appointed by the programme board on behalf of the host. Decisions on programme directors always take place in consultation with Mistra.

The programme director is responsible for day-to-day management of the programme. (S)he presents the agenda to the programme board at the meetings, and implements the board’s decisions. The director is responsible for creating and maintaining good collaboration in the programme.

The programme director is also in charge of monitoring the projects and ensuring that the results of the programme are compiled. (S)he must ensure that any confidential information in the programme is protected. Such information may be disseminated only to people who need it and have undertaken to maintain secrecy. The director is also responsible for requisitioning funds and providing accounts as agreed.
The programme director bears operational responsibility for ensuring that the programme constantly engages in an active dialogue with the intended users of the research results. Here, work in the programme needs to be organised in a way that permits and stimulates the dialogue between users and those who are working in the Mistra programme. The director also bears operational responsibility for ensuring that the results are put to use. The director’s duties are determined in detail by the programme board.

Management group

The programme director can form an association with a programme management group. Various perspectives in the activities of the programme should be represented in this group: examples are perspectives from technology, natural sciences, social sciences or various industrial or economic sectors. It is common for project managers to belong to the management group, but this is not necessary. Other people who may be considered are, for example, the communications and financial managers.

Joint functions

All Mistra programmes have certain functions that are shared by them all: administration, communication and contacts with users. The programme board decides on allocation of sufficient funds in the programme budget for these functions, and on how they should be organised.

In order for the organisation and management to be workable, enough time must be allowed for administration in the programme. If the programme is arranged in such a way as to require a great deal of administration or if the programme director has limited time for these tasks, the programme should engage a special administrator or coordinator.

The communicator has a central role in the programme. The focus of these tasks determines the skills this person needs to have, given that certain programmes call for wide-ranging communication while others can work in a more focused way, in relation to a defined target group. The focus is determined by the aims of the programme. A professional communicator is required for these tasks.

Projects with project managers

Programme activities are carried out in various projects, run by project managers. It is important for everyone working in a project to be well aware of how the project relates to the programme as a whole.

If the programme includes PhD students, it is important for both the students and their supervisors to be well acquainted with the objectives of the Mistra programme. The intradisciplinary requirements of thesis work must be compatible with the programme requirements regarding research.

Mistra and its programmes

At Mistra’s secretariat, every programme has a contact person or programme manager, who is coopted to the programme board and, accordingly, has the rights of attendance and expression, but not of voting. The intention is for this person to support the programme board in its work and generate active exchange of experience between the board and Mistra.

The programme board and programme director are always in charge of the programme management. Mistra intervenes in ongoing programmes only in certain particular situations. In these cases, Mistra is represented by the CEO, the programme manager or someone else at Mistra.

Examples of situations in which Mistra can intervene:

  • in matters relating to the programme agreement between Mistra and the programme host, and to drawing it up
  • with the programme host: appointment and dismissal of members of the programme board
  • with the programme host and board: appointment and dismissal of the programme director
  • annual approval of the programme plan (which is revised annually; see the section on the programme plan)
  • ongoing examination of the financial accounts of the programme and disbursement of requisitioned funds
  • in the event of shortcomings in the financial accounts.

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