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Division of labor in collaborative knowledge production: The role of team size and interdisciplinarity

Carolin Haeussler and Henry Sauermann

Research Policy, 2020, vol. 49, issue 6

Abstract: Teams performing scientific research are becoming increasingly large and interdisciplinary. While prior work has examined antecedents and performance implications of these trends, it is not clear how size and interdisciplinarity relate to teams’ internal organization, especially the division of labor (DoL) between members. We first develop an organizing framework that integrates three complementary dimensions of DoL: (1) the specialization of individual team members, (2) the distribution of activities across team members, and (3) interdependencies between activities. We then discuss how these aspects of DoL are related to team size and interdisciplinarity and test our hypotheses using author contribution data from over 12,000 scientific articles. We find that team size has a positive relationship with an aggregate measure of DoL, but disaggregated measures show that this relationship holds for some aspects of DoL and not others. We also find that interdisciplinary teams use greater division of labor, although this effect depends on the degree to which interdisciplinarity is intra- versus inter-personal. We conclude by discussing how our conceptual and empirical toolkit may be applied in future research on the drivers and consequences of division of labor in teams.

Keywords: Team Production; Knowledge Work; Interdisciplinary Research; Collaboration; Division of Labor (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2020.103987

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