RWTH Aachen University (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 3785-3791
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.0925
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Through the last years, interdisciplinary research has increased in prevalence and it is expected that this trend will continue: It is evident that interdisciplinary science has a positive impact on knowledge production and innovation (van Rijnsoever and Hessels, 2011). Therefore, it is of special importance to analyze how the interdisciplinary processes can be further supported. The current scientific discourse on cooperation shows that there are only a few studies which incorporate the stakeholders’ perspective. To close this research gap, Jooß (2014) used a qualitative method mix to establish a dataset of 30 critical incidents (CI) for interdisciplinary cooperation in the German Cluster of Excellence (CoE) “Integrative production Technology for High-Wage Countries”. These CIs are clustered into three patterns:
1) integration and allocation of time,
2) integrated knowledge management as regards the common interdisciplinary vision as well as
3) recursive and process-related support and participation of stakeholders.

Based on the exploratory groundwork of Jooß (2014), the present research project aims at developing a standardized measurement for examining the given CIs in a quantitative way. Therefore, the CIs have first been operationalized as a questionnaire. To find a valid set of items and a selected initial factor structure, an exploratory factor analysis has been accomplished with the collected data of 59 interdisciplinary employees of the CoE. After systematical reduction of items, six factors, represented by 19 items in total, have been found which explain more than 70% of the total variance. The factors have been called environmental factors for networking, internal networking, interdisciplinary cooperation and tolerance, knowledge transfer and cooperation, dissemination of research and personal development as well as awareness about goals. The factors cannot eliminate the contextual overlap between the CIs completely, they overlap at least partially and are based on one another. Nevertheless, an acceptable statically selectivity result in a valid set of items.

These initial questionnaire as a first attempt to measure critical incidents of interdisciplinarity quantitatively makes an economical evaluation possible and can facilitate the support of cooperation. Through this evaluation it is possible to analyze how the quality of cooperation is influenced by different factors. A target-oriented deriving of recommendations for action is feasible. It is of special interest having other research clusters replicate our findings in order to enhance generalizability.
Interdisciplinary Cooperation, Interdisciplinarity, Critical Incidents, Quantification, Questionnaire.