By Annemarie Horn and Eduardo Urias
Why do some collaborators in interdisciplinary teamwork clash? And why does collaboration between others seem smooth but not yield anything? What causes these differences in collaboration, and how can this inform interventions to support interdisciplinary collaboration and integration?
When we started teaching an interdisciplinary masters course, we expected it to become a battlefield, based on our reading of countless lists of the challenges of interdisciplinary collaboration. We thought that the students’ diverse study backgrounds – ranging from arts to medicine, and from social sciences to mathematics – would cause tensions; that they would disagree with each other about theories and methods that they were unfamiliar with and held opinions about. But, although we observed some heated conversations, the eruption we had anticipated never hit. Instead, the collaboration was surprisingly smooth.