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Journal Article

Division of labor in collaborative knowledge production: The role of team size and interdisciplinarity

Research Policy 49 (6): 103987
Carolin Haeussler, Henry Sauermann (2020)
Economics, politics and business environment; Human resources management/organizational behavior; Management sciences, decision sciences and quantitative methods; Technology, R&D management
Team production, knowledge work, interdisciplinary research, collaboration, division of Labor
Teams performing scientific research are becoming increasingly large and interdisciplinary. While prior work has examined antecedents and performance implications of these trends, it is not clear how team size and interdisciplinarity relate to teams’ internal organization, especially the division of labor (DoL) between members. We first develop an organizing framework that integrates three complementary dimensions of DoL: (1) the specialization of individual team members, (2) the distribution of activities across team members, and (3) interdependencies between activities. We then discuss how these aspects of DoL are related to team size and interdisciplinarity and test our hypotheses using author contribution data from over 12,000 scientific articles. We find that team size has a positive relationship with an aggregate measure of DoL, but disaggregated measures show that this relationship holds for some aspects of DoL and not others. We also find that interdisciplinary teams use greater division of labor, although this effect depends on the degree to which interdisciplinarity is intra- versus inter-personal. We conclude by discussing how our conceptual and empirical toolkit may be applied in future research on the drivers and consequences of division of labor in teams.
With permission of Elsevier
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