Interview with Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić and Selma Kadic-Maglajlic, Assistant Professors at the School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo (SEBS)

What are the main obstacles and challenges for R&I sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Is gender equality among those challenges? asked young women scientists / project manager in Sarajevo for their opinion about national R&I sector and their experiences as a researcher / project manager so far. The interviews are published with the permission of the interview partners at, namely with Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić, PhD and Selma Kadic-Maglajlic PhD, both Assistant Professors at the School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo (SEBS).

  • Could you please tell us something about yourself, your research career and your current institutional affiliation and responsibilities?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: I am an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo (SEBS, more on: I obtained my BSc diploma (major Marketing) at SEBS in 2007, and was awarded with the best diploma thesis award for her generation (the topic of the thesis: “Tourist satisfaction with the tourism destination”). My education continued by enrolling in the “Corporate Governance” master programme in 2009, jointly implemented by Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb and SEBS, where I defended a master’s thesis titled “Influence of services’ companies’ corporate reputation on organizational clients’ perceived value”. In 2011, I became a PhD candidate in the field of Marketing at the Doctoral programme in Economics and Business at Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana (FELU), where I defended my PhD thesis in 2015 on the topic “Dyadic perspective on marketing accountability and customer perceive value in business relationships”. 

During my studies, I was a scholar from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, as well as the scholar of the government programme for the best students. I was also part of the winning teams for the Balkan Case Challenge competition in Vienna (2nd place, 2006) and International Advertising Agency’s student advertising competition (2nd place for Europe, 2007). In the final year of my bachelor studies, I conducted a research visit to Friedrich Alexander Universität – Erlangen, Nürnberg, supported by the DAAD program – Student exchange Germany. Furthermore, I participated in the “Young Leaders Program”, sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and visited Japan in 2009 as well as in various summer schools, seminars and programmes, where seminars held by Philip Kotler and Kent Monroe are particularly worth to mention.

Since 2009, I am employed as SEBS faculty. Prior to this employment, I worked as the project manager for WUS Austria, Sarajevo Office (2007-2008) and as the PR officer of SEBS (2008-2009). Regarding my specific professional experience and tasks, I also taught financial accounting and management accounting courses for two years at SEBS international undergraduate programme.

I was also involved in the implementation of the master programme ‘’Economics and Management of Public Sector and Environment’’ developed through Tempus project and implemented by SEBS and FELU (generation 2015/16 is the seventh generation enrolled consecutively). Furthermore, I am currently engaged as researcher and administrator in various European Union projects implemented by SEBS and supported by IPA – instrument of pre-accession programmes, such as: “Adriatic Health and Vitality Network” project, “Eco- and Cultural Tourism in South Dinarides” project and “Platform for trans-Academic Cooperation in Innovation” project.

During my doctoral studies in Slovenia, I became the scholar of “Innovativna Shema” scholarships from University of Ljubljana in 2012. First paper from my dissertation has been published in the Industrial Marketing Management journal, while second paper from the dissertation is awarded with the Best Paper Award at the 13th International Conference on Research in Advertising (ICORIA). I have co-authored 20 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals, one book, three book chapters, two monographs, 40 paper presentations at peer reviewed conferences, and more than 10 domestic and international research projects.

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: I am Assistant professor at the Department of Marketing of the School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo, where I teach several undergraduate courses (Marketing, Consumer Behaviour, Marketing Research). I defended my doctoral dissertation at University of Ljubljana, which was awarded for scientific and methodological excellence by Institute for Market-Oriented Management, University of Mannheim. As a visiting professor I was teaching in Austria, Norway and Slovenia. My research interests spans from marketing and sales to philosophy and psychology in business. I am co-author of several articles published in highly recognized scientific international journals (e.g. Journal of International Marketing, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Business Research, Quality Management & Business Excellence).

The importance of education, research and innovation for the overall success of the EU-integration efforts of the Western Balkans has been often on the agenda of different RTI stakeholders and policy makers in recent years. The Western Balkan countries have also made some important efforts to overcome the negative consequences of the economic and political transition and its impact on the region’s research and innovation sectors: They adopted a variety of strategies, laws and programs to improve the performance of the sector on the national level. What we often hear is that not adopting but implementing the RTI strategies and programmes on national and regional level is quite challenging for different reasons.

  • From the point of view of a researcher – how would you assess the relevance that education, research and innovation play in your country?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: My opinion is that education, research and innovation are of great relevance for every country, since it is proven that investment in these particular pillars at the national level are having high returns in terms of growth and development. I would also say that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a special case, since the complex organization of the country and unclear role and place of these specific pillars are not allowing for education, research and innovation to reach its full potential. Namely, higher education (and education in general) is fragmented and in one entity it is regulated at the cantonal level, while in the other at the entity level. There is a lack of coordination between these levels, and a lack of joint perspective and common orientation and goals. This assumes that it is possible to have a completely different approach to higher education institutions between two cantons, while entity and national level coordination bodies do not in fact manage to establish a full coordination. When it comes to research, a great problem is that it is really difficult to track the system of the support for researchers from different levels since ministries at each level have their own systems of support. Support exists, but I need to point out that it is still really limited in terms of quantity/size and scope. Finally, when it comes to innovation, there is a lack of a coherent national innovation system that can follow up and facilitate the research and innovation processes in the country.

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: I believe it is important to make here differentiation between declarative statements of policy makers and reality that very often does not corresponds to each other.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina what you can observe in a press and in general, is that education, research and innovations are seen as crucial for development of the country. However, in the same time in practice, some decisions that are being made are in total contrast with above mentioned statement. For example, all decisions about higher education are being made on the local level, without a clear joint vision on state level. So in country with cca 3.5 million of citizens there are 8 public and more then 25 private universes that provide very questionable quality of education, which is not being closely regulated or monitored.

  • From your point of view, what is the most relevant development when it comes to research and innovation policy in your country? What are the bottlenecks?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: As mentioned before, unfortunately, I cannot outline too many positive examples and developments in terms of research and innovation policy at the level of the country (B&H). I could outline positive efforts to publish the research and innovation statistics (only since 2012), and commend to the policy makers that they ensured the ticket for the country to access the EU research funds, although the capacities for utilization of these funds are still limited.  

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: I would say those are the processes of internationalization and networking with global scientific community that naturally brings knowledge and skills to local people, and sometimes even force them to change their previous habits, force them to open to worldwide and adopt new practices

  • Can you please tell us something about the most relevant achievements within your institution related to research and innovation in recent years? What are the challenges your institution is currently facing?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: My institution, School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo, represents the oldest and the biggest public higher education institution from the area of economics and business in the country. Apart from having the national-level recognition and tradition, my school ensured multiple accreditations from international institutions. Namely, since 2013, programmes at our school are accredited by EPAS (international programme accreditation by the EFMD) and since 2015 the school holds the international AACSB accreditation, which puts it in top schools when it comes to quality at the international level. In order to raise up to the standards of the mentioned accreditations, SEBS faculty put additional efforts in increasing their research efforts (despite limited support and funding).

When it comes to innovation, we have been consistently implementing the best and the newest processes in the school (e.g. first in using the student online registration system, first fully digitalized, highly developed online Courseware system through the e-learning Moodle platform, student e-cards etc.) Furthermore, since 2014, we are implementing an EU funded project titled Platform for trans-Academic Cooperation in Innovation (PACINNO, that analyses micro- and macro- determinants of innovation and develops innovation policies at the national and regional level and under which, SEBS was the first at the University to set up and equip the Technology Transfer Office (

However, although there are significant positive achievements, the school is still struggling in the recognition of its efforts at different levels and there is a general lack of understanding from different important stakeholders. In that regards, SEBS now lack funds to support its researchers to go to scientific conferences and to ensure less administration load and more space for research for its faculty.

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: Nothing to add. I agree with Maja.

European research still suffers from persistent barriers and constraints to gender equality in the recruitment, advancement and mobility of scientists in the European scientific system, as well as the lack of women in decision-making and the unbalanced representation in the evaluation process of research projects

  • Can you please tell us something about gender equality at your institution? Are there any statistics (such as No. and ratio of female students by degree programme (Bac/Master/PhD), how many women scientists are employed full time / how many part time etc.)

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: I would asses that the gender equality is fully respected in my institution. Namely, when it comes to faculty (both teaching and research staff), there are about 46% of female researchers employed. The same is with the students, I currently do not have the formal statistics (that we do measure), but I can confirm that female students are represented at each level of study (Bac/Master/PjD).

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: At SEBS, I also believe that gender equality is fully respected. We have more than 46% of female researchers at SEBS. In addition, what I personally observed is that in business filed we have more female students that male.

  • Can you please tell us something about gender policy at your institution? Are there any gender strategies, action plans, gender equality plans etc.?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: Unfortunately, there are no particular gender policies/plans at SEBS, however, University rulebooks are assuming gender equality as one of its major principles, as well as the law on higher education.

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: To my knowledge, we do not posses particular gender policies/plans although University rulebooks are assuming gender equality as one of its major principles as Maja already said.

  • Does your institution supports the employment of women scientists by e.g. giving preference to female applicants in case of academic hiring?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: No such preference is given when employing candidates (in terms of formal criteria and evaluation).

When thinking about your research career…

  • Did you experience any discrimination compared to your male colleagues?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: No, luckily I can say that my research career did not suffer just because of my gender. I would say that I was appreciated in the same manner as my male colleagues or even with more respect by others. Furthermore, since the high quality research and publishing process is embedded in the “blind review” processes, there is no way my scientific work could be undermined because of my gender.

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: Maybe I can consider myself lucky, but in my career I was not discriminated based on gender. I was receiving the same treatment in all circumstances s my male colleagues.

  • Are there any suggestions you would like to propose to research organisations / universities related to gender equality in research and innovation?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: One of the suggestions could be to establish (or to connect to already established) female research networks that exist in different fields and that provide additional community support.

  • What could be improved at national level?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: Probably, additional criteria in terms of higher preference for female researchers when it comes to research support and selection for grants could be added and developed, as well as the integrated policies and action plans to further support female researchers.

All countries from the region are also associated to Horizon 2020; the preliminary results show some first success stories however overall participation rate is still quite low.

  • What are your experiences with project drafting and implementing?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: I have been involved in drafting and submitting of a couple of proposals, as a member of the SEBS team who was again a member of consortium. Unfortunately, those proposals were not selected for financing, although they’ve passed the thresholds.

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: I have been involved in drafting and submitting of a couple of proposals, as a member of the SEBS team who was again a member of consortium. Unfortunately, those proposals were not selected for financing, although they’ve passed the thresholds.

  • What was your experience related to gender equality within the projects you were involved in?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: I can say only for the consortiums that applied for projects, the gender equality was present, even more; female researchers were the ones who were leading the development of the proposal.

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: All consortiums that I was a member off, were balanced in terms of gender, with a slightly larger number of female researchers within the teams.

  • In your opinion, what is the most important to be done on the national level to improve the participation and success rate in Horizon 2020 and other research funding programmes?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: Building capacities of researchers for preparing demanding project application and ensuring that each institution has an appropriate project management infrastructure that can help in the development of the proposals is very important. Furthermore, national level institutions should enable all researchers (and in particular higher education institutions) an access to networks of researchers and institutions that were particularly designed in order to help consortiums to emerge and connect. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small country with relatively low potential, and it can so far only be an additional element of the offer in the consortium, and not the core of it. This means that institutions from the country should be well connected with the institutions from Western Europe in order to be more competitive at the highly competitive Horizon 2020 calls.

Selma Kadic-Maglajlic: Building a knowledge base, administrative and project management capacities is vital for improvement of success rate in Horizon 2020 and other research funding programmes. Furthermore, attending specialized trainings on applications writing skills and networking would also a help a process.

  • Any suggestion related to improvement of gender equality and involvement of women from Bosnia and Herzegovina in national and international projects?

Maja Arslanagić-Kalajdžić: As I already mentioned, a preference treatment of women when selecting national/international project teams is one of the steps towards improving the gender equality. However, I need to point out that I really feel that the treatment towards female researchers at the University of Sarajevo and my institution is fair and on equal terms with male colleagues.

Document type
  • Other


Publication Year


Geographical focus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • H2020
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Ines Marinkovic on June 28, 2016
Modified on July 14, 2016