External funding is playing a more and more crucial role for departments and universities and is increasingly shaping the organizational discourses and research practices at departments. Looking at departments as ‘the shop floors’ of universities, I present an alternative approach to external funding with focus on creating an organizational culture of empowerment and support. From the initial question of ‘what can departments actually do’, I analyse the multiple barriers for change from researchers as well as department managers and develop an integral approach with concrete organizational initiatives and activities on three levels - the personal, the organizational and the managerial level. Presenting a new project design tool ‘Project Model Canvas’, I focus on developing the necessary competencies at the individual level and present frameworks for strategic support and leadership at department as well as at university level.
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