University Of Tasmania

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Strangers on a train: the politics of collaboration

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 13:39 authored by Baguley, M, Kerby, M, Abbey MacDonaldAbbey MacDonald, Vaughan CruickshankVaughan Cruickshank

This article explores the experience of three research teams operating across a variety of educational contexts. As members of these teams, the authors were privy to a range of opportunities and challenges that emphasised how political collaboration can be, even when the team formation is an outgrowth of previous personal and professional relationships. There are a range of inhibitors and enablers that impact on the success of a collaborative team, which can be further exacerbated by increasingly performative requirements and expectations in the university sector. In response, university academics seek collaborative opportunities in order to enhance research productivity and to establish networks capable of attracting competitive grant funding. However, little attention has been given to the experiences, attitudes and values of research team members, particularly those undertaking leadership responsibilities. Using the premise of Hitchcock’s (Strangers on a train [Motion picture], Warner Brothers, Hollywood, 1951) film noir Strangers on a Train as a metaphoric device, three collaborative teams are investigated using a narrative approach. The narrative account draws upon the authors’ reflections of their participation in the teams which are fused in a single imaginative vignette in order to identify the key factors that contributed to the success or demise of the teams. The findings revealed the critical importance of established relationships, clear vision and communication, and institutional rewards.


Publication title

Australian Educational Researcher








Faculty of Education


Springer Netherlands

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2020 The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Policies and development; Teacher and instructor development