Skip to main content

Innovation in the Knowledge Age: implications for collaborative science

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Amabile TM, Barsade SG, Mueller JS, Staw BM (2005) Affect and creativity at work. Adm Sci Q 50(3):367–403

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Andrade EB, Ariely D (2009) The enduring impact of transient emotions on decision making. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 109(1):1–8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):121–149

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barsade SG, Gibson CB (2007) Why does affect matter in organizations? Acad Manag Perspect 21(1):36–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barsade SG, Gibson DE (2012) Group affect its influence on individual and group outcomes. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 21(2):119–123

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barsade SG, O’Neill OA (2016) Manage your emotional culture. Harv Bus Rev 58–66

  • Bennet L, Gadlin H (2012) Collaboration and team science: from theory to practice. J Investig Med 60(5):768–775

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bisel RS (2009) A communicative ontology of organization? A description, history, and critique of CCO theories for organization science. Manag Commun Q 24(1):124–131

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carleton K (2011) How to motivate and retain knowledge workers in organizations: a review of the literature. Int J Manag 28(2):459–468

    Google Scholar 

  • Catino M, Patriotta G (2013) Learning from errors: cognition, emotions and safety culture in the Italian Air Force. Organ Stud 34(4):437–467

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chang JW, Sy T, Choi JN (2011) Team emotional intelligence and performance: interactive dynamics between leaders and members. Small Group Res 43(1):75–104

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 0893318910386719

  • Davenport TH, Thomas RJ, Cantrell S (2002) The mysterious art and science of knowledge-worker performance. MIT Sloan Manag Rev 44(1):23–30

    Google Scholar 

  • Drucker PF (1999) Knowledge-worker productivity: the biggest challenge. Calif Manag Rev 41(2):79–94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Drucker PF (2002) Knowledge work. Exec Excell 19(1):12

    Google Scholar 

  • Edmondson A (1999) Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Adm Sci Q 44(2):350–383

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Edmondson AC, Kramer RM, Cook KS (2004) Psychological safety, trust, and learning in organizations: a group-level lens. Trust Distrust Organ Dilemmas Approaches 12:239–272

    Google Scholar 

  • Fairhurst GT, Putnam L (2004) Organizations as discursive constructions. Commun Theory 14:5–26

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):145–158

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Frick DE (2011) Motivating the knowledge worker. Def Acquis Res J 18(4):368–387

    Google Scholar 

  • Giddens A (1984) The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration. University of California Press, Berkeley

    Google Scholar 

  • Gorman JC, Cooke NJ, Amazeen PG (2010) Training adaptive teams. Hum Fact J Hum Fact Ergon Soc 1–13

  • Grant RM (1996) Toward a knowledge-based theory of the firm. Strateg Manag J 17:109–122

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gregory R, Ohlson D, Arvai J (2006) Deconstructing adaptive management: criteria for applications to environmental management. Ecol Appl 16(6):2411–2425

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Güney S, Cresswell AM (2012) Technology-as-text in the communicative constitution of organization. Inf Organ 22(2):154–167

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):127–142

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 35:243–249

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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–S172

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):157–163

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hareli S, Rafaeli A (2008) Emotion cycles: on the social influence of emotion in organizations. Res Organ Behav 28:35–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iverson JO, McPhee RD (2002) Knowledge management in communities of practice. Manag Commun Q 16(2):259–266

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):176–199

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):589–601

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kangasharju H, Nikko T (2009) Emotions in organizations joint laughter in workplace meetings. J Bus Commun 46(1):100–119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 35:104–121

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kelly JR, Barsade SG (2001) Mood and emotions in small groups and work teams. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 86(1):99–130

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kuhn T (2002) Negotiating boundaries between scholars and practitioners: knowledge networks, and communities of practice. Manag Commun Q 16(1):106–112

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kuhn T, Jackson M (2008) Accomplishing knowledge: a framework for investigating knowing in organizations. Manag Commun Q 21(4):454–485

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):193–202

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McPhee RD, Zaug P (2000) The communicative constitution of organizations: a framework for explanation. Electron J Commun 10(1–2):21

    Google Scholar 

  • Mladkova L (2012) Leadership in management of knowledge workers. Soc Behav Sci 41:243–250

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • NAS (2015) Enhancing the effectiveness of team science. National Research Council, National Academies Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  • 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):941–966

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parker JN, Hackett EJ (2012) Hot spots and hot moments in scientific collaborations and social movements. Am Sociol Rev 77(1):21–44

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):80–100

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pink DH (2011) Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. Penguin Press, London

    Google Scholar 

  • 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):1325–1336

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):505–523

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schoeneborn D, Trittin H (2013) Transcending transmission: towards a constitutive perspective on CSR communication. Corp Commun Int J 18(2):193–211

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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):285–316

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shen B (2008) Toward cross-sectoral team science. Am J Prev Med 35(2):240–242

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shin Y (2014) Positive group affect and team creativity mediation of team reflexivity and promotion focus. Small Group Res 45(3):337–364

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 Angeles

    Google Scholar 

  • Thompson J (2009) Building collective communication competence in interdisciplinary research teams. J Appl Commun Res 37(3):278–297

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thurlow A, Yue AR (2014) Organizational identity in a social media world: a communicative constitution of organizations (CCO) perspective. Workplace Rev 3–9

  • Tracy SJ (2004) Dialectic, contradiction, or double bind? Analyzing and theorizing employee reactions to organizational tension. J Appl Commun Res 32(2):119–146

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tracy SJ (2013) Qualitative research methods: collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact. Wiley, Hoboken

    Google Scholar 

  • Treem J (2012) Communicating expertise: knowledge performances in professional-service firms. Commun Monogr 79(1):23–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wuchty S, Jones BF, Uzzi B (2007) The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science 316:1036–1038

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

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.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Margaret M. Hinrichs.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hinrichs, M.M., Seager, T.P., Tracy, S.J. et al. Innovation in the Knowledge Age: implications for collaborative science. Environ Syst Decis 37, 144–155 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-016-9610-9

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-016-9610-9

Keywords

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