Doctorate holders outside the academy in Finland: academic engagement and industry-specific competence

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In Finland, doctoral employment outside the academy has been increasing. Universities can no longer absorb the numbers in the doctoral labour force and research and development (R&D) policy emphasises the need for specialised research capacity in non-academic sectors; the highest academic degree is assumed to add value. However, the transition from doctoral programmes to employment outside the academy has been limited due to the social dynamics within labour markets. This article explores the careers of doctorate holders and the motives non-academic organisations have for recruiting such graduates. The data come from a survey of doctorate holders (N = 1183) and interviews with 26 employers. Based on the analysis, there was little place for doctorate holders outside the academy, except in R&D roles. When employed to undertake work outside R&D, they carried out special, demanding tasks or had a particular role related to their academic status. Professional functions such as those undertaken by medical doctors, engineers and teachers were the most common, but career patterns varied from one employment sector to the next. Employers considered industry-specific competence to be important, and the status of the doctoral degree and the membership in the academic community were expected to advance collaboration with universities and enhance the professional status of the organisations that hired doctoral graduates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-68
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • career trajectories
  • doctoral education
  • doctoral employment
  • PhD job markets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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