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When neighboring disciplines fail to learn from each other: The case of innovation and project management research

Andrew Davies, Stephan Manning and Jonas Söderlund

Research Policy, 2018, vol. 47, issue 5, 965-979

Abstract: As knowledge production becomes more specialized, studying complex and multi-faceted empirical realities becomes more difficult. This has created a growing need for cross-fertilization and collaboration between research disciplines. According to prior studies, the sharing of concepts, ideas and empirical domains with other disciplines may promote cross-fertilization. We challenge this one-sided view. Based on an analysis of the parallel development of the neighboring disciplines of innovation studies and project management, we show that the sharing of concepts and empirical domains can have ambivalent effects. Under conditions of ideological distancing, shared concepts and domains will be narrowly assimilated − an effect we call ‘encapsulation’ – which creates an illusion of sharing, while promoting further self-containment. By comparison, reflexive meta-theories and cross-disciplinary community-building will enable a form of sharing that promotes cross-fertilization. Our findings inform research on research specialization, cross-fertilization and effectiveness of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Keywords: Knowledge specialization; Interdisciplinarity; Encapsulation; Meta-theories; Ideological distancing; Community-building (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Research Policy is currently edited by M. Bell, B. Martin, W.E. Steinmueller, A. Arora, M. Callon, M. Kenney, S. Kuhlmann, Keun Lee and F. Murray

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