Disciplines, Knowledge Territories and Boundaries: Disciplinary Interaction inside Project Teams

By Jacqui Rogers and Beryl Ann Badger.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Organizational Studies

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The boundaries between the disciplines have been described as places “where perspectives meet and new possibilities arise” (Wenger 2000:223), and which provide unusual learning opportunities. Furthermore, other writers stress the value of boundary interaction in promoting creation and innovation particularly inside multidisciplinary project teams. Although disciplines are more frequently discussed in the context of higher education, there is little written about the application of boundary concepts in the workplace environment. This paper sets about unraveling some of the concepts surrounding disciplines to see if there is a fit inside the working environment and to provide greater clarity for those organisations wishing to develop increased creativity and learning opportunities for staff. The literature review discusses the nature and territory of disciplines, disciplinary mapping and highlights issues arising from disciplinary interaction. The study took an inductive approach using an ethnographic perspective to data collection and analysis. Interviewing formed the primary data collection method, yielding both qualitative and quantitative data from a cross sectional sample drawn from oil and gas consultancy. The disciplines were mapped to ascertain where the richest learning opportunities lie to underpin the study’s conclusion that boundary interaction held benefits for both employees and organisations and consequently, should be proactively promoted within the workplace.

Keywords: Disciplines, Creativity and Innovation, Situated Learning

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Organizational Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.13-29. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 706.760KB).

Dr. Jacqui Rogers

Associate Lecturer, Plymouth School of Management, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, UK

Holds a PhD in Business Management and is a chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. She has worked in a variety of management/HR roles in both the public and private sector. As HR project manager, she worked with global geoscience communities helping to develop the concepts of Subject Matter Experts and Communities of Practice together with the related competencies and career development. She is now Principal Consultant with Tailored HR Strategies focusing on skill development as well as working as associated lecturer at Plymouth University. Her research interests include multidisciplinary working, creativity, focussed skill development and informal learning.

Beryl Ann Badger

Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer), School of Management,, Plymouth Business Schoool, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, UK

After gaining a degree in Sociology and Psychology, Beryl went on to specialise in managing change, organisational and management development as a consultant in the public sector. She joined London Transport Executive, heading the massive change from a heavily centralised bureaucracy to decentralised business units. Joining Plymouth University initially as Lecturer, Beryl has focussed on organisational learning in stimulating small business and in the public sector, primarily in the Health Sector as well as supervising a number of successful PhDs. Her research projects also include inter-professional collaboration, multidisciplinary working, situated learning and issues at work for the over 50 and publishing a number of papers in these areas. She is a member of the Association of Management Education and Development and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.