The understanding diversity primer, published as 10 blog posts in 2022, provides an introduction for beginners of 10 key aspects, as summarised below. For other primers on key topics covered by Integration and Implementation Insights (i2Insights), see ‘Primers‘.
Summary: In tackling complex societal and environmental problems, diversity is critical for finding untapped knowledge, new insightful questions and fresh ideas, but also makes working together more challenging.
The topics covered in the primer are put into a broader context of the kinds of diversity relevant for research.
Summary: Mental models are small-scale simplified models about different aspects of reality that are unique to each person. They are functional, but necessarily incomplete.
Their characteristics are described, along with the challenges of developing shared mental models.
Summary: Differences in perceptions about good research are described, especially how they arise from research differences in:
Summary: Differences in power are described based on:
- three different forms of power
- three different spaces where decisions are made
- four different levels where power is exercised.
In addition, three ways of expressing power are described: power over, power to and power with.
Summary: Ten different basic personal values are described: self-direction, stimulation, hedonism, achievement, power, security, conformity, tradition, benevolence and universalism.
Six characteristics of values are presented, along with two overarching sets of conflicting values.
Summary: Interests are things that a person is curious about, as well as things that a person has a stake in, where they stand to gain or lose depending on what happens to those things.
There is also a description of how interests tend to be expressed through positions, rather than directly.
Summary: Culture describes the social behaviours and norms of groups in society, which differ on six dimensions:
- how hierarchies and inequalities in power are handled
- whether independence or interdependence is favoured
- how achievement, competition and cooperation are handled
- tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity
- short-term versus long-term orientation
- attitude to gratification of basic human drives.
Summary: Personality differences that predict behaviour are described, focusing on 6 traits:
- Openness to experience.
Summary: Nine clusters of skills required for teams to be effective are described:
- resource investigator
- completer finisher.
Summary: While the principle of increasing diversity is admirable, putting it into practice is hard, time-consuming and risky. Four ways forward are discussed:
- fostering plural innovation pathways and research consortia
- expanding multidisciplinary research
- systematically learning from success
- systematically learning from failure.