Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management

Projects and programmes

Research at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management is of high international quality and is carried out within a large number of topics and disciplines. This variation is represented among other things in the many research programmes and activities at the faculty departments. Some of the ongoing projects are listed below. For detailed information, please visit the department websites.

Governance, Management and Performance in the Norwegian educational system.

Project period: 2010-2013

Project leader: Torberg Falch (ISØ)

Contractor: NFR

This research project emphasizes the roles of governance and management of schools.
The project covers both compulsory and upper secondary education. The project consists of 4 parts.
Part 1 is on governance in compulsory education, and the main purposes are to investigate the implementation and consequences of new modes of governance and management. Part 2 will develop performance indicators for upper secondary education and part 3 will analyze how the performance indicators are affected by governance. Finally, the topic of part 4 is management of schools. The main purpose of this part is to investigate how management of schools affects student performance.

S-TEAM : Science-Teacher Education Advanced Methods


Project period: 2009-2012

Project leader: Geir Karlsen (PLU)

A dissemination project under the EU Science-in-Society theme within Framework Programme 7

The main methods of dissemination which will be used by S-TEAM will be training events or reflective workshops, together with materials for teachers and teacher educators including DVDs or other media.
The underlying principle of S-TEAM, however, is that teachers will be consulted and listened to, throughout the project. It is simply not possible to effect large-scale change in the pedagogy of science education without the full cooperation of teachers.
Equally, the involvement of policymakers and their power to effect change at a structural level is essential. Training events and workshops are only useful if they are supported by continuing development activities which connect teachers and their ideas, and resources which enable them to implement their ideas inside and outside the classoom.

Work unlimited: Identity construction in a Global context

Project period: 2008-2011

Project leader: Carla Dahl-Jørgensen (SAN)

Contractor : NFR

Work migration is a complex and interdisciplinary phenomenon. The proposed project will draw on anthropological theories of migration and globalization, as well as relevant theories from studies on organisational psychology, with the objective of gaining a better understanding of the individual consequences of work migration.The project will try to capture subjective strategies used to reconcile contrasts or manage ambiguity related to migration and identity.

Ideas of identity will be used as one approach to understand the individual experience of work migration. Identity will be defined as the ideas we have about who we are and what groups we belong to. Identity, then, is fundamental for shaping and mediating migrant workers' experiences in the receiving society. Work has traditionally been perceived as a fundamental orientation point for identity construction, but studies reveal that work no longer offers the secure axis around which to wrap and fix self-definitions, identities, life projects. Several analysts note that the use of short-term contracts alter the relations between workers.

The proposed project will be organized as a comparative study and data will be collected in two different geographical fieldwork contexts. One of these contexts will be in Norway and the other will be a country currently experiencing similar growing influx of migrant workers, especially in sectors such as construction, services and agriculture.

The project will be foremost a qualitative and exploratory study of individual experiences of migrant workers, and the gathering of data will therefore mainly draw on the verbal accounts and observed behaviour of the migrants. But also quantitative data from the selected cases will be integrated into the analysis. In addition we will also rely on findings from 3 ongoing projects for comparisons and to strengthen the feasibility of this project.

Suicidal behaviour in a cultural perspective

Project period: 2008-2010

Project leader: Heidi Hjelmeland (ISH)

Contractor : NFR

Although research on suicidal behaviour is quite abundant, we are still far from reaching a full understanding of the meaning(s) of such behaviour. In pursuit of this goal, we need to take cultural aspects into consideration. Two approaches to study the meaning(s) of suicidal behaviour is to look at the intentionality involved in such behaviour, and to look at the attitudes towards suicidal behaviour. Building on research already conducted by this research group, the main aim of the present study is to enhance our understanding of the meaning(s) of suicidal behaviour in a cultural context by

  1. studying and comparing intentionality involved in nonfatal suicidal behaviour in Norway and Ghana,
  2. studying and comparing attitudes towards suicidal behaviour in various groups of students, professionals and lay people in Ghana and Uganda.

Additional aims are to contribute to the development of research methodology and theory building in a cultural context. Methodological triangulation is employed in the study. In the intentionality part of the study, semi-structured interviews consisting of a narrative and a problem-focused part will be conducted with patients admitted to hospital following an act of nonfatal suicidal behaviour. The interviews will focus on the following circumstances:

  1. the patient's own narrative about
    1. how he or she came to the suicidal act itself,
    2. which intention the patient him/herself had with the act,
    3. how the patient has experienced the surroundings' reactions to the act, and,
  2. the patient's body image and experience, and
  3. the patient's communicative repertoire.

In the attitude part of the study, first, qualitative interviews (semi-structured) of groups of students, professionals and lay people will be conducted, and, second, a quantitative questionnaire study in similar groups will be conducted. The results will provide a research base from which suicide preventive efforts can be developed and initiated.

Early detection and prevention of psychiatric disorders among preschoolers in the community: Mechanisms of change and long term follow up

Project period: 2008-2010

Project leader: Lars Wichstrøm (PSY)

Contractor : NFR

Young children have psychiatric disorders to a comparable extent with that of any other age group, and they endure. If undetected, problems may escalate and become more resistant to change. However, far fewer young children with psychiatric disorders receive treatment than do school age children, adolescents, and adults - most likely because they go undetected. These facts provide a strong rationale for community-wide screening programs in combination with effective early intervention.

Existing screens produce high rates of false positives when used at the community level, which is unfortunate if prevention is to be based on screen results. Our aim is therefore to develop a screen with higher predictive power. Existing evidence based prevention programs for young children commonly target a specific set of disorders, most often behaviour problems. Most communities do not have the resources to keep a series of programs targeting a variety of problems. Generic prevention programs strengthening the parent-child relationship would therefore be the prevention program of choice, if proven effective.

All children meeting at the health checkup for 4-year olds in the city of Trondheim during 2007 and 2008 will be screened with the SDQ (N=4,000). At present the consent rate is XX%. 1000 families will be invited to participate in a more intensive study. Children high on SDQ are oversampled. One of the parents completes a structured diagnostic interview (ePAPA). The parent and the child meet on a later occasion for observation and testing, which include parent-child interaction; children's attachment representations, children's reporting on their interaction with peers, teachers, and parents, language skills, emotional competence; parents report on the child's temperament, social skills, and the parent's own symptoms. Reports are taken from day care personnel/teachers, health nurses, medical records and from official registers. Retesting take place after 2 and 4 years.

Risk perception and uncertainty in transport

Project period: 2008-2009

Project leader: Torbjørn Rundmo (PSY)

Contractor : NFR

The project focuses risk perception and uncertainty from the public, policymakers, professional transporters and experts related to reducing accidental in transport. The transport means include public (aviation, rail, bus, sea transport) as well as private means of transportation (car, MC, scooter, bike and walking). The project consists of 3 subprojects.

  1. Risk perception by vulnerable groups and areas' consequences for transport safety and risk management.The study focuses risk perception related to mobility and modal choice for various and vulnerable user groups (age, sex, socio-economic status, ethnicity, professionality related to transportation). Both non-risk factors (costs, convenient transport, leisure activities etc.) and various risk factors will be considered. A further focus is on decision makers' regards of risk perception by user groups in developing strategies and plans for transport and risk management. 3 types of geographical contexts are studied: big cities, medium size towns and rural areas.
  2. Risk perception, uncertainty and transport safety decisions, examines the role of risk perception and uncertainty in individual- and organisational level decisions related to transport safety decisions.
  3. Associations between perceived and objective risk in transport. The study also aims to examine differences in subjective and objective risk ratings related to various types of transportation as well as other risk sources (subjective risk assessments versus e.g. objective ratings from a Norwegian public) and to analyse how ethnicity, gender, age, education and professionality influence the differences.


The European Values Study 2008: Extending a Data Base for Comparative Research

Project period: 2008-2009

Project leader: Ola Listhaug (ISS)

Contractor : NFR

The research questions can briefly be summarized.

  1. From the very beginning the main emphasis of the Values Study was to study long term change and it is only now that data allow us to assess the main hypotheses on long term trends and patterns: Variations between national cultures, how religiously based civilizations differ, and trends towards convergence of national value systems.
  2. The next research issue is formed by questions related to values and violent conflicts. These concerns are primarily linked to events and societal developments that occurred after the project started; the emphasis of globalization and the fall of communism which lead to an interest in the study of democracy and democratization, as well as an emphasis on new causes of co nflict and war. Obviously, in the latter category, the clash of civilizations thesis (Huntington, 1993) is important, but also the question of the role of values for civil war.
  3. From research interests that have emerged from the democracy discussion is the question of good governance. We ask why some polities are more successful than others in governing and in establishing a civic morality. The question of good government can be extended to ask what constitutes the good society.
  4. Values Study data can shed important light on the cultural basis for political integration - in Europe and in the global community. The cultural basis for European integration has received increased attention with the expansion of EU eastwards and the current discussion of membership for Turkey.
  5. The accumulation of data from EVS and WVS has stimulated a recent growth of multi-level research that integrates individual level models with models using contextual data at different levels. The present study will contribute to this evolving research line.
  6. The Values study has contributed to a methodological development that unifies macro- and micro approaches and is also starting to provide important data to behavioral economics


Financial Engineering Analysis of Investment and Operations in Electricity Markets

Project period: 2007-2011

Project leader: Stein-Erik Fleten (IØT)

Contractor : NFR

By financial engineering we mean employing financial economics and quantitative analysis approaches, to make pricing, investment, hedging and portfolio management decisions.
The context of problems considered are those that are relevant for market-related activities in electricity companies, with an emphasis on hydroelectric generating companies. These include analysis and modelling of electricity-related stochastic processes such as prices and resource availability, the planning of use and generation of electricity, and evaluation of the plans via simulation. They further include hedging the operational cash flows, modelling and forecasting electricity prices and associated factors, and research regarding valuation and optimal exercise of real options inherent in investment opportunities facing electricity companies.

Media systems, news content and public perception of political reality

Project period: 2007-2011

Project leader: Toril Aalberg (ISS)

Contractor : NFR

Public opinion constitutes one of the cornerstones of democracy. Citizens are assumed to hold preferences for particular polices, know where parties and candidates for office are located on the relevant policy dimensions, and cast their votes accordingly. In other words: Democracy functions best when its citizens are politically informed. In order to express attitudes and act according to their self-interest, citizens need relevant and up to date information about current affairs. In many respects, politi cal relevant information is more widely available now then at any time in history. However, several scholars have questioned the quality and the form of information provided by the news media. A central hypothesis in this project is that media systems mat ter for the information available to the public. How commercial and public broadcasting is organised within a country, or the relative importance of newspapers to television, are all factors that can influence the information provided by the news media, a nd thus the potential effect on the public.

The overall purpose of this project is to study the information given by the news media to the public, and how this information influences public's knowledge and perception of political reality. The proposed p roject will contribute to the research agenda in two areas:

  1. We want to investigate how the information given by the news media varies between different media systems and types of media within these systems. Does news content vary between media systems in that the amount of information, the focus of information and the use of news frames varies significantly, or is there no significant difference in the information provided by the different news media in different media systems?
  2. A second aim is to study how between and/or within system variations in news content may influence political knowledge and public perception of political reality.


The geography of social vulnerability, environemental hazards and climate change

Project period: 2007-2011

Project leader: Haakon Lein (GEO)

Contractor : NFR

The study set out to modify, apply and evaluate a model for environmental risk assessment, here termed 'The vulnerability of a place model', as a means for studying the potential impact of future extreme climatic events in Norwegian regions. The model, developed and used in an American context, obviously need to be modified in two ways. Firstly, core concepts - especially the term vulnerability - need to be given relevant meaning in a Norwegian context. Secondly, the model, which has been developed for as sessing present vulnerabilities to environmental hazards in general, must be developed so as to incorporate assessment of future environmental risks due to climate change as well as future patterns of vulnerabilities. The ultimate goal of the project will be to assess whether such a modified model can be used for assessing the potential regional impacts of future extreme climatic events. This will include both an assessment of data needs, present data availabilities, as well as potential usefulness for long term planning and local disasters preparedness.

HEALTH BY NUMBERS: Statistics as a technology of governance in municipal health services.

Project period: 2007-2010

Project leader: Ann Rudinow Sætnan (ISS)

Contractor : NFR

This project asks: How do statistics function as a tool of governance in municipal health services? We address this question by

  • studying in detail the negotiation, production, analysis, deployment, and assessment of health services statistics
  • focusin g especially on three statistics systems
  • DRGs currently undergoing development towards usage in municipal health services,
  • IPLOS, which municipalities have been instructed to use as of 2006 but which are currently being contested, and
  • local systems of similar content and usages.

We will study these both top-down and bottom-up, focusing on five strategically selected municipalities -- one large, three medium-large, and one small. Besides size differences, the municipalities will represent political a nd economic parameters likely to be relevant for statistics practices.
The case study data will be supplemented with national survey data and with studies of academic and mass media discourses and official documents.
The project will collaborate closely w ith the "Storforsk" project, "For Whom the Bell Curves".

Beyond the knowledge-action gap: Research as an intervention into Sri Lanka's post-crisis reconstruction

Project period: 2006-2010

Project leader: Ragnhild Lund (GEO)

Contractor : NFR

The study seeks to develop knowledge that contributes to poverty reduction and recovery of post-war/post-tsunami Sri Lanka and asks:

  • What knowledge is produced by humanitarian and development practitioners in a context of crisis?
  • What constitutes rele vant research knowledge in the given situation of crisis and how can it be made available to practitioners in the process of reconstruction?
  • Based on the findings to the above questions, what constitute better reconstruction practices in conflict areas and in non-conflict areas?
  • What is the role of poverty reduction in peace building?

Analytically, two main nexuses will be probed:

  1. Development-Policy-Praxis, will be investigated by geographers and development specialists with knowledge of poor, cri sis-ridden communities, including Sri Lanka. Critical interfaces between these dimensions will be identified to analyse the roles and impact of various actors in different localities. Crucial to the understanding of this nexus will be to identify how peop le cope during and after crisis, how they organise and build capacity, and how they strategise with funding agencies. It will also work with the policy process in reconstruction and how these processes interact with different groups in civil society.
  2. Poverty-Conflict-Peace, will be investigated by architects/planners, peace/conflict researchers and development specialists. Pro-poor growth is about the ability to transform the nature of the economy to achieve growth, but it is also about protecting the vulnerable/marginalised within a decentralised and democratic environment (good governance). Processes of marginalisation and multiple deprivations must be understood so that effective and politically feasible policies can be created to reverse them. The relationships between poverty and conflict during peace-building and post-crisis recovery will be critically analysed to inform guidelines for practical interventions and policy recommendations.


Optimization in Maritime Transportation and Logistics

Project period: 2005-2011

Project leader: Marielle Christiansen (IØT)

Contractor : NFR

The demand for maritime transport services is increasing consistently, and there are no signs that the world economy will rely less heavily on maritime transport in the future. There is an increased need for optimization-based decision support systems (DSS) to handle the complex ship routing and scheduling challenges that the shipping industry faces. Transportation routing and scheduling stand out as one of the major success stories of Operational Research. However, relatively little research has been done in ship routing and scheduling internationally. The research group at NTNU within ship routing and scheduling is today one of the most active and internationally renowned groups and need to increase their size and activity to maintain and strengthen this position.

Strategic significance and relevance to society
Proper planning of fleets and their operations through OPTIMAR research activity has the potential of improving economic performance, reducing shipping costs for the shipping companies, improving flexibility and customer service and reducing damage to the environment. OPTIMAR can enhance the research activity within ship routing and scheduling in Norway and by this strengthen the research position internationally.

Research areas
In OPTIMAR we want to focus on problems most relevant for the shipping industry. The research will be based on real planning challenges. The potential topics we want to focus on are market and contract evaluation and selection, optimal fleet design and liner network design at the strategic level. At the tactical level, ship routing and scheduling will be prioritized, where we want to focus on tramp ship scheduling problems with fixed and flexible cargo quantities and integrated inventory management and ship scheduling problems. We need to develop new theory, models, exact methods and heuristics to solve the focused problems.

We will publish at least 10 papers, participate at international conferences regularly, organize a research workshop and an industry seminar, cooperate with other programs in organizing industry seminars and include OPTIMAR results and theory in NTNU courses.


Contact information:

NTNU, Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management
Loholt Allè 85, Paviljong A
N - 7048 Trondheim

Telephone: + 47 73 59 19 00
E-mail: postmottak@svt.ntnu.no

Postal address:
NTNU, Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management
7491 Trondheim