Disciplinary Diversity in Teams: Integrative Approaches from Unidisciplinarity to Transdisciplinarity
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Disciplinary Diversity in Teams: Integrative Approaches from Unidisciplinarity to Transdisciplinarity

Diversity within science teams is both a blessing and a curse. The power of team science derives largely from its ability to leverage individual differences in many forms—e.g., experience, gender, expertise—to enhance the breadth and depth of insight and innovation. But these differences can also manifest as barriers to effective teamwork, giving rise to misunderstanding and mistrust. In this chapter, we focus on beneficial and baneful aspects of a particular type of difference within science teams, namely, difference in expertise, understood roughly and somewhat abstractly as disciplinary diversity. By themselves, disciplinary frameworks are narrow and partial, but in combination, they can represent interrelated aspects of complex systems and explain intricate interdependencies. Complex, integrative explanations are powerful, giving us resources to address the grand challenges that confront humanity, such as hunger, infectious disease, and climate change (De Grandis and Efstathiou 2016). Efforts to combine disciplinary frameworks are often motivated by a desire to take full advantage of what we have come to know about ourselves and our world, weaving together complex responses to complex problems.


O’Rourke, M., Crowley, S., Laursen, B. K., Robinson, B., Vasko, S. E. (2019). Disciplinary diversity in teams, integrative approaches from unidisciplinarity to transdisciplinarity. In K. L. Hall, A. L. Vogel, and R. T. Croyle (Eds.), Advancing Social and Behavioral Health Research through Cross-Disciplinary Team Science: Principles for Success (pp. 21–46). Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer.



November 1, 2019


TDI Contributions, TDI Theory