”Barnehagen som dialogisk og helsebyggende arbeidsplass – med mennesker som tør å sette seg selv på spill …”.

Moe, M.
Avhandling for graden philosophiae doctor. Trondheim: Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet.


The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the ways in which Norwegian preschool teachers ("barnehagelærere") perceive dialogue as meaning-making in the preschool working environment, and their experiences with the correlation between dialogue and health.


The study finds that the preschool teachers experience that a good and professional staff team in which employees listen, ask and show commitment and interest in each other is very important to their own well-being.

However, there are great differences between the staff teams at the five preschools. This is important to dialogical cooperation and relationships between the preschool teachers. In some preschools, the preschool teachers' mutual relationships and the relationship between preschool teachers and management are characterised by trust. The preschool teachers experience that there are good opportunities for dialogue with colleagues in which they can ask questions, listen to one another, be heard and support one another. The preschool teachers also experience that it is easy to find the time to talk to colleagues when necessary.

At other preschools, preschool teachers experience that the relationship between teachers and/or management is characterised by conflicts. This is apparent through a lack of dialogue. They experience mistrust, resistance and lack of response in the mutual relationships between colleagues. In this context, the study finds that it is more difficult for preschool teachers to find time for dialogue, if their mutual relationships are already unclear and mistrustful.

With regard to health and long-term sickness, the study finds that some preschools help sick staff to remain as part of the community at the preschool and perform important work. This is done by management and staff, in dialogue with their ill colleague, organising work so as to accommodate the special needs of the sick person, e.g. if they have a chronic disease. However, the study also shows that not all participants have positive experience with employee interviews. In this context, the good dialogue requires mutual trust in the relationship between the manager and the employee.


The PhD dissertation builds on a previous project that examined factors which may have an impact on absenteeism due to sickness and stability at preschools. The previous project was based on a questionnaire survey among the staff at five preschools (a total of 72 employees) as well as on focus group interviews with three to five preschool teachers with long-term presenteeism from each of the five preschools. Long-term presenteeism was defined as less than two weeks of sick days within the past two years. In connection with the selection of the five preschools, emphasis was placed on ensuring variation by including preschools of different sizes, with different management and organisation structures as well as with high and low absenteeism due to sickness, respectively.


The empirical data basis constitutes individual qualitative interviews with a total of 12 preschool teachers and four managers ("styrere/enhetsledere") from five preschools from the previous project. The 16 interviewees (one of whom was a man) were between 28 and 60 years old and all had a degree in social education. In connection with the selection of preschool teachers for interviews, emphasis was placed on variation in the absenteeism due to sickness history. Of the 12 preschool teachers interviewed, five had been long-term ill (defined as at least two weeks of sick days within the past two years), and seven had not. Two of the preschools had not had long-term ill employees within the past two years. Therefore, the group of long-term ill preschool teachers in the study come from three of the five preschools. The interviews were recorded and lasted 1.5-2.5 hours (a total of 32 hours). All interviews were transcribed. The dissertation has a hermeneutic phenomenological perspective. The empirical material was analysed thematically and supplemented by theoretical perspectives, dialogical analysis of the statements and understanding of current preschool discourses and health discourses.


Moe, M. (2014). ”Barnehagen som dialogisk og helsebyggende arbeidsplass – med mennesker som tør å sette seg selv på spill …”. Avhandling for graden philosophiae doctor. Trondheim: Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet.

Financed by

Queen Maud University College (DMMH)