Strategies for knowledge acquisition in bionanotechnology

Rafols, Ismael (2007) Strategies for knowledge acquisition in bionanotechnology. Innovation / Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 20 (4). pp. 395-413. ISSN 1351-1610

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Discourses on convergent technologies claim that fields such as bionanotechnology are interdisciplinary and, therefore, require specific organizational forms, such as laboratories with researchers from many different disciplinary backgrounds. However, empirical investigations challenge the intrinsic interdisciplinarity of these emergent fields, and some analysts criticize the discourses as prescriptive. In order to investigate actual laboratory practices in bionanoscience, this article explores the dynamics of knowledge integration and the knowledge acquisition strategies of 10 research projects in two research specialities, namely biomolecular motors and lab-on-a-chip. The research shows that knowledge integration is, in fact, very asymmetrical: typically, a project will use materials and techniques from various disciplines at a standard level of know-how, but focus its research effort on the unique expertise of the home laboratory. Furthermore, projects use various strategies to acquire knowledge: interdisciplinary practices involving deep collaborations and exchanges between distinct disciplines at either the personal or institutional level are only one strategy to acquire knowledge and, indeed, not the most common. The majority of projects combine different strategies, including service collaboration, limited recruitment and in-house learning. These observations can be explained by a trade-off between the benefits of cognitive diversity set against the costs of team cohesion and learning.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Depositing User: Ismael Rafols
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:19
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2012 11:01
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