Environment Systems and Decisions

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 144–155 | Cite as

Innovation in the Knowledge Age: implications for collaborative science

  • Margaret M. HinrichsEmail author
  • Thomas P. Seager
  • Sarah J. Tracy
  • Mark A. Hannah


Current trends validate the notion that multifaceted, multimodal interdisciplinary collaborations lead to increased research productivity in publications and citations, compared to those achieved by individual researchers. Moreover, it may be that scientific breakthroughs are increasingly achieved by interdisciplinary research teams. Nonetheless, despite the perceived importance of collaboration and its bibliometric benefits, today’s scientists are still trained to be autonomous, work individually, and encourage their graduate students to do the same—perpetuating values which impede the creation of collaborative space between disciplines. As a consequence, scientists working in teams typically report serious obstacles to collaboration. This paper builds off of recent recommendations from a 2015 National Academies report on the state of team science which emphasizes greater definition of roles, responsibility, accountability, goals, and milestones. However, these recommendations do not address the subjective, relational components of collaboration which can drive innovation and creativity. The relational side of collaboration is key to understanding the capacity and capabilities of the knowledge workers, such as scientists and engineers, who comprise interdisciplinary research teams. The authors’ recommendations, grounded in organizational communication and knowledge worker literature, include a renewed focus on the process of organizing through communication rather than focusing on organization as an outcome or consequence of teamwork, leading and cultivating team members rather than managing them, and the need to address self-driven, rather than external, motivations to engage in knowledge work.


Knowledge work Collaboration Team science Emotional leadership Communicative construction of organizations Interdisciplinary science 



This paper has benefitted from several helpful conversations with Kara Hall, Michael O’Rourke, Kaitlin Vortherms, William Guschwan, and Camilla Norgaard Jensen. This research is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program (#83558001), the National Science Foundation (#1140190, #1343772), and the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University.


  1. Amabile TM, Barsade SG, Mueller JS, Staw BM (2005) Affect and creativity at work. Adm Sci Q 50(3):367–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrade EB, Ariely D (2009) The enduring impact of transient emotions on decision making. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 109(1):1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ayoko OB, Callan VJ, Härtel CE (2008) The influence of team emotional intelligence climate on conflict and team members’ reactions to conflict. Small Group Res 39(2):121–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barsade SG, Gibson CB (2007) Why does affect matter in organizations? Acad Manag Perspect 21(1):36–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barsade SG, Gibson DE (2012) Group affect its influence on individual and group outcomes. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 21(2):119–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barsade SG, O’Neill OA (2016) Manage your emotional culture. Harv Bus Rev 58–66Google Scholar
  7. Bennet L, Gadlin H (2012) Collaboration and team science: from theory to practice. J Investig Med 60(5):768–775CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bisel RS (2009) A communicative ontology of organization? A description, history, and critique of CCO theories for organization science. Manag Commun Q 24(1):124–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carleton K (2011) How to motivate and retain knowledge workers in organizations: a review of the literature. Int J Manag 28(2):459–468Google Scholar
  10. Catino M, Patriotta G (2013) Learning from errors: cognition, emotions and safety culture in the Italian Air Force. Organ Stud 34(4):437–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chang JW, Sy T, Choi JN (2011) Team emotional intelligence and performance: interactive dynamics between leaders and members. Small Group Res 43(1):75–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chaput M, Brummans BH, Cooren F (2011) The role of organizational identification in the communicative constitution of an organization: a study of consubstantialization in a young political party. Manag Commun Q 0893318910386719Google Scholar
  13. Davenport TH, Thomas RJ, Cantrell S (2002) The mysterious art and science of knowledge-worker performance. MIT Sloan Manag Rev 44(1):23–30Google Scholar
  14. Drucker PF (1999) Knowledge-worker productivity: the biggest challenge. Calif Manag Rev 41(2):79–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Drucker PF (2002) Knowledge work. Exec Excell 19(1):12Google Scholar
  16. Edmondson A (1999) Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Adm Sci Q 44(2):350–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Edmondson AC, Kramer RM, Cook KS (2004) Psychological safety, trust, and learning in organizations: a group-level lens. Trust Distrust Organ Dilemmas Approaches 12:239–272Google Scholar
  18. Fairhurst GT, Putnam L (2004) Organizations as discursive constructions. Commun Theory 14:5–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Falk-Krzesinski H, Contractor N, Fiore S, Hall KL, Kane C, Keyton J, Klein JT, Spring B, Stokols D, Trochim W (2011) Mapping a research agenda for the science of team science. Res Eval 20(2):145–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Frick DE (2011) Motivating the knowledge worker. Def Acquis Res J 18(4):368–387Google Scholar
  21. Giddens A (1984) The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  22. Gorman JC, Cooke NJ, Amazeen PG (2010) Training adaptive teams. Hum Fact J Hum Fact Ergon Soc 1–13Google Scholar
  23. Grant RM (1996) Toward a knowledge-based theory of the firm. Strateg Manag J 17:109–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gregory R, Ohlson D, Arvai J (2006) Deconstructing adaptive management: criteria for applications to environmental management. Ecol Appl 16(6):2411–2425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Güney S, Cresswell AM (2012) Technology-as-text in the communicative constitution of organization. Inf Organ 22(2):154–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gurtner A, Tschan F, Semmer NK, Nägele C (2007) Getting groups to develop good strategies: effects of reflexivity interventions on team process, team performance, and shared mental models. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 102(2):127–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hall KL, Feng AX, Moser RP, Stokols D, Taylor BK (2008a) Moving the science of team science forward: collaboration and creativity. Am J Prev Med 35:243–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hall KL, Stokols D, Moser RP, Taylor BK, Thornquist MD, Nebeling LC et al (2008b) The collaboration readiness of transdisciplinary research teams and centers: findings from the National Cancer Institute’s TREC year-one evaluation study. Am J Prev Med 35(2):S161–S172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hall KL, Stokols D, Stipelman BA, Vogel AL, Feng A, Masimore B, Morgan G, Moser RP, Marcus SE, Berrigan D (2012) Assessing the value of team science: a study comparing center- and investigator-initiated grants. Am J Prev Med 42(2):157–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hareli S, Rafaeli A (2008) Emotion cycles: on the social influence of emotion in organizations. Res Organ Behav 28:35–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Iverson JO, McPhee RD (2002) Knowledge management in communities of practice. Manag Commun Q 16(2):259–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Iverson JO, McPhee RD (2008) Communicating knowing through communities of practice: exploring internal communicative processes and differences among CoPs. J Appl Commun Res 36(2):176–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jennings E, Jones S, Arvola L, Staehr PA, Gaiser E, Jones ID, Weathers KC, Weyhenmey GA, Chiu C, De Eyto E (2012) Effects of weather-related episodic events in lakes: an analysis based on high-frequency data. Freshw Biol 57(3):589–601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kangasharju H, Nikko T (2009) Emotions in organizations joint laughter in workplace meetings. J Bus Commun 46(1):100–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kara EL, Hanson P, Hamilton D, Hipsey MR, McMahon KD, Read JS, Winslow L, Dedrick J, Rose K, Carey CC, Bertilsson S, Marques DM, Beversdorf L, Miller T, Wu C, Hsieh Y, Gaiser E, Kratz T (2012) Time-scale dependence in numerical simulations: assessment of physical, chemical, and biological predictions in a stratified lake at temporal scales of hours to months. Environ Model Softw 35:104–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kelly JR, Barsade SG (2001) Mood and emotions in small groups and work teams. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 86(1):99–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kuhn T (2002) Negotiating boundaries between scholars and practitioners: knowledge networks, and communities of practice. Manag Commun Q 16(1):106–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kuhn T, Jackson M (2008) Accomplishing knowledge: a framework for investigating knowing in organizations. Manag Commun Q 21(4):454–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Langman OC, Hanson PC, Carpenter SR, Hu YH (2010) Control of dissolved oxygen in northern temperate lakes over scales ranging from minutes to days. Aquat Biol 9(2):193–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McPhee RD, Zaug P (2000) The communicative constitution of organizations: a framework for explanation. Electron J Commun 10(1–2):21Google Scholar
  41. Mladkova L (2012) Leadership in management of knowledge workers. Soc Behav Sci 41:243–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. NAS (2015) Enhancing the effectiveness of team science. National Research Council, National Academies Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  43. Nembhard IM, Edmondson AC (2006) Making it safe: the effects of leader inclusiveness and professional status on psychological safety and improvement efforts in health care teams. J Organ Behav 27(7):941–966CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Parker JN, Hackett EJ (2012) Hot spots and hot moments in scientific collaborations and social movements. Am Sociol Rev 77(1):21–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Phillips L (2009) Analyzing the dialogic turn in the communication of research-based knowledge: an exploration of the tensions in collaborative research. Public Underst Sci 20(1):80–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pink DH (2011) Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. Penguin Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. Read JS, Hamilton DP, Jones ID, Muraoka K, Winslow LA, Kroiss R, Wu CH, Gaiser E (2011) Derivation of lake mixing and stratification indices from high-resolution lake buoy data. Environ Model Softw 26(11):1325–1336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rentsch JR, Delise LA, Salas E, Letsky MP (2010) Facilitating knowledge building in teams: can a new team training strategy help? Small Group Res 41(5):505–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schoeneborn D, Trittin H (2013) Transcending transmission: towards a constitutive perspective on CSR communication. Corp Commun Int J 18(2):193–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schoeneborn D, Blaschke S, Cooren F, McPhee RD, Seidl D, Taylor JR (2014) The three schools of CCO thinking: interactive dialogue and systematic comparison. Manag Commun Q 28(2):285–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shen B (2008) Toward cross-sectoral team science. Am J Prev Med 35(2):240–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shin Y (2014) Positive group affect and team creativity mediation of team reflexivity and promotion focus. Small Group Res 45(3):337–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stokols D (2014) Training the next generation of transdisciplinarians. In: O’Rourke M, Crowley S, Eigenbrode SD, Wulfhorst JD (eds) Enhancing communication and collaboration in interdisciplinary research. SAGE, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  54. Thompson J (2009) Building collective communication competence in interdisciplinary research teams. J Appl Commun Res 37(3):278–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Thurlow A, Yue AR (2014) Organizational identity in a social media world: a communicative constitution of organizations (CCO) perspective. Workplace Rev 3–9Google Scholar
  56. Tracy SJ (2004) Dialectic, contradiction, or double bind? Analyzing and theorizing employee reactions to organizational tension. J Appl Commun Res 32(2):119–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tracy SJ (2013) Qualitative research methods: collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  58. Treem J (2012) Communicating expertise: knowledge performances in professional-service firms. Commun Monogr 79(1):23–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wuchty S, Jones BF, Uzzi B (2007) The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science 316:1036–1038CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret M. Hinrichs
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas P. Seager
    • 1
  • Sarah J. Tracy
    • 1
  • Mark A. Hannah
    • 1
  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations