Global Institutions' Interdisciplinary Research Commitments: A Mixed Methods Study
Middle Status Conformity
AdvisorKoyama, Jill P.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe growing complexities of the world’s grand problems calls for novel research approaches to produce solutions. World universities play a pivotal role in addressing global challenges through research generated by their faculty and students. Though traditional research approaches that utilize knowledge from single disciplines are more common, it has been found that the practice of interdisciplinary research (IDR), which encourages a synthesis of disciplines, produces more novel ways of thinking and innovative solutions. While IDR has been documented to have several benefits, such as promoting collaborations between authors from within and between institutions, it is also known to be a time-consuming approach that often requires more funds to complete. Further, although there is global recognition of the importance of IDR, little is known about how universities around the world stimulate, support and promote the practice of IDR. The theory of boundary spanning and the theory of middle status conformity help to guide this dissertation’s research objectives of 1) uncovering how universities around the world facilitate IDR, 2) identifying patterns of stratification based on the differences in commitment to IDR and 3) identifying top performing universities for collaborative publications and understand their IDR specific strategies. This study applies a combination of text analysis and quantitative methodology on strategic plans and collaborative publication data of 211 universities from around the world. Findings demonstrate that level of IDR commitment varies across institutional rank. However, leaders pursue a wide range of goals to stimulate various levels of IDR and these goals do not necessarily translate to collaborative publications. Tier 1 and 2 institutions describe more spearheading boundary spanning goals to steer IDR. Additionally, text analysis is also utilized to confirm the theory of middle status conformity. When it comes to IDR practice, conformity was highest in tier 2 institutions and least within tier 1 and 3 institutions. Findings of this study provide ways to structure university commitments to increase IDR participation and I coin the terms Internal Discipline Symbiosis (IDS) and External Discipline Symbiosis (EDS) as strategies that university leaders can employ to better pursue IDR goals to steer innovation.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Educational Leadership & Policy