What is it about?

Multidisciplinary teams pervade modern work, but working across disciplines can make it hard for individuals to see how their work fits into the bigger picture. So in practice, people overcome this by learning from each other through shared objects, like performance metrics, documents, and products. When people do this, we found that multidisciplinary teams that have more interactions between members refine existing work better. On the other hand, teams that have fewer interactions between members are better at finding new solutions. We also found that when they work on diverse tasks, multidisciplinary teams that spread out responsibilities for coordinating, or decentralize, perform better than teams with fewer coordinators.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

These findings suggest that leaders could help multidisciplinary teams perform better by balancing coordination responsibilities among their team members. At the same time, this helps labor movements because empowering specialized workers to coordinate with colleagues directly also helps the team.


Interdisciplinary work is often challenging, but sitting between so many fields (psychology, communication, physics, applied math) made this work especially difficult and rewarding. I hope readers come away feeling inspired that while one solution rarely fixes all problems in teams and organizations, that it's possible to strike a balance that advances individual and collective interests.

John Meluso
University of Vermont

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Multidisciplinary learning through collective performance favors decentralization, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2303568120.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page