Bridging the divide: the complexity challenge (Elena-Mădălina Vătămănescu)

The intrinsic dynamics of interdisciplinarity has gained momentum nowadays given the impetuous call for wider frames of debate and well-integrated solutions to complex issues. Research and researchers are dared to catch up with complexity trends and competing perspectives, to take stock of what has been done so far and to advance finer-grained insights into how new realities and challenges should be convergently approached. Yet, when bringing interdisciplinarity into being, the adage goes “Easy to say, harder to apply”. Then why is it so difficult to gather researchers from different disciplines to commonly tackle and solve complex socio-economic (and not only) puzzles? What are the pivotal propelling factors conducive to interdisciplinary attempts or more optimistically to interdisciplinary achievements?

I try to pinpoint below some of the most prominent aspects which may account – to some extent – for the interdisciplinarity “thrivability”.

  1. Open Attitude

The researcher’s open attitude towards complex issues is invested with a pivotal role (Kirby et al., 2019; Lattuca et al., 2012; Zaiț et al., 2021). The extent to which (s)he values and attaches importance to the knowledge spanning over discipline boundaries has a significant influence on the success of interdisciplinary collaborations. Being open-minded and aware of the imperative of viewing complex research problems from various perspectives comes forward as a MUST to embark on the interdisciplinarity cruise.

  1. Favorable Context

Favorable contexts are also of the essence when nurturing interdisciplinary endeavors. Whenever interactions between researchers from various disciplines are smartly pooled, either by the institutions they work for or by the researchers themselves, interdisciplinary achievements may come naturally to all parties (Bruun et al., 2005). Seeing the same phenomena through different lens is prone to foster complex standpoints which better showcase the state-of-the-art.

  1. Sheer Awareness

Not only the researcher’s open attitude and favorable context influence meaningful interdisciplinary achievements, but also the awareness itself (Gero, 2017; Rhoten, 2003). Once a researcher is better aware of the opportunity window offered by other disciplines’ toolbox, his motivation to think outside the box is expected to rise exponentially, thus catalyzing interdisciplinary enthusiasm.

From a bird’s eye view, bridging the divide via cultivating interdisciplinarity taste and propensity springs from distinctive, yet interconnected sources which may capture the attention of both individuals and their organizations. In the quest for managing complexity, the collaborative work of researchers coming from different fields arises as a best practice as mental models based on nonlinearity, integration, and interactionism harness a more fertile ground for performing an in-depth radiography of intricate phenomena.

About the authorMadalina Vatamanescu

Elena – Mădălina Vătămănescu is Full Professor Habil., Ph.D., at the Faculty of Management, SNSPA. At present, she is Head of the Centre for Research in Management and Managing Editor of the Journal of Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy. She is Doctor in Communication Sciences and in International Economics and Business . Her main research interests are: knowledge management, intellectual capital, international business dynamics, relationship marketing, sustainability, organizational theory and diagnosis. More on her academic profile: Publons / Research Gate / Google Scholar.

References

  • Bruun, H., Hukkinen, J., Huutoniemi, K., & Thompson Klein, J. (2005). Promoting interdisciplinary research: The Case of the Academy of Finland. Helsinki: Academy of Finland.
  • Gero, A. (2017). Students’ attitudes towards interdisciplinary education: a course on interdisciplinary aspects of science and engineering education. European Journal of Engineering Education, 42(3), 260–270. https://doi.org/10.1080/03043797. 2016.1158789
  • Kirby, C. K., Jaimes, P., Lorenz-Reaves, A. R., & Libarkin, J. C. (2019). Development of a measure to evaluate competence perceptions of natural and social science. PLoS One, 14(1), e0209311. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone. 0209311
  • Lattuca, L. R., Knight, D. B., & Bergom, I. M. (2012). Developing a Measure of Interdisciplinary Competence for Engineers. American Society for Engineering Education.
  • Rhoten, D. (2003). A multi-method analysis of the social and technical conditions for interdisciplinary collaboration. Final report. BCS-0129573 final report/2.
  • Zaiț, A., Bratianu, C., Vătămănescu, E.-M., Andrei, A.G., & Horodnic, I.A. (2021). Interdisciplinarity: A complexity approach towards academic research. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 38(3), 294–306. https://doi.org/10.1002/sres.2783

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