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What makes a team?: An Evaluation of an Interdisciplinary Team Development Program

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Cross J, Love H. What makes a team?: An Evaluation of an Interdisciplinary Team Development Program. Oral presentation at 2017 SciTS Conference. Clearwater Beach, FL. Jun 13, 2017. Evaluating and Enhancing Team Processes. Online at:

The objective of this research was to assess how ten transdisciplinary teams developed over time with seed funding from a university sponsored program. The Vice President for Research (VPR) issued a call for applications and awarded several teams $200,000 of seed money to support the formation of new interdisciplinary research teams, with the goal of achieving a 10X on investment from the original seed funding. This longitudinal study used mixed methods to conduct a process and developmental evaluation of ten research teams over two years. Research methods included observation of various types of team meetings, informal interviews with team members, and social network surveys. During team meetings our observations were focused on capturing: number of speaking turns by each participant, type of knowledge shared between participants, and the idioculture of each team. In addition, we conducted social network analysis of each team based on social network surveys and team observations. The surveys were administered three times, at the beginning of the program, after one year, and at the end of the second year. We found there are at least three distinct types of successful transdisciplinary teams: small teams, large teams, and teams of teams. The characteristics that distinguish the most successful from the least successful teams included: types of team interaction, proportion of women, clarity of team vision, and collaborative history between members, as well as relationships between the scientific team and external partners, either industry, practitioner, or community organizations. These findings have specific implications for the SciTS field, including necessary professional development for teams (regarding team building and mission definition), the importance of external partners in informing the research goal, as well as how seed funding can most effectively accelerate productive collaboration in teams of different sizes and scopes of research.



Type of Publication:

Oral presentation


scits 2017 conference, presentation, team development

Addresses these goal(s):

  • Enhance team performance, interactions, and attitudes
  • Conduct research on/evaluate team science

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Resource created by Jane Hwang on 10/3/2017 12:38:21 PM.

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