This chapter introduces Collaboration Engineering as an approach to developing more effective collaborative sessions for interdisciplinary teams. Collaboration is the foundation for success for many academic teams; however, the benefits of collaborative sessions can be lost when group processes are not well understood and the needs of interdisciplinary teams are not met. As such, this chapter will identify key facets of how interdisciplinary teams develop and evaluate potential solutions. Groupthink and disciplinary ethnocentrism are also presented, as these factors can negatively impact interdisciplinary teams, and techniques are proposed that can help teams avoid these potentially negative effects. The central position of this chapter is that Collaboration Engineering based on proven group processes and guided by design recommendations specific for interdisciplinary team collaboration can result in session designs that improve outcomes for interdisciplinary teams.
A deeper understanding of the core processes that underpin collaborative initiatives can improve the process of designing successful interdisciplinary collaboration. This section will describe general group processes, aspects specific to interdisciplinary teams, and the emerging discipline of Collaboration Engineering.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Interdisciplinary Groups: Groups with members drawn from different academic disciplines to accomplish a specific purpose through the careful integration of their respective philosophies, concepts, and methodologies.
In-Group: The group that an individual sees himself or herself as belonging to.
Groupthink: The tendency for a group to avoid negatively-perceived social consequences within the group when evaluating contributions.
Collaboration Engineering (CE): An approach to the design and deployment of reusable collaborative processes that support mission-critical tasks and posited that to achieve a goal collaboratively (see Briggs et al., 2003).
Out-Group: The people outside the group that an individual sees himself or herself as belonging to.
ThinkLets: Represents one repeatable, predictable collaboration activity that can move a group toward a goal.
Persuasion: The act of influencing people to agree with a position.
Brainstorming: When a group works together to generate ideas, one person’s contributions may trigger ideas in the minds of the other participants while at the same time their ideas may also spark ideas in their own mind too.