Peter Smith, Lisa Jane Callagher, Paul Hibbert, Elisabeth Krull, John Hosking

Developing Interdisciplinary Learning: Spanning Disciplinary and Organizational Boundaries

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Education

Based on a study of a postgraduate course, we show how—through the processes associated with applying a strategic tool—students developed the understandings that allowed them to span disciplinary and organizational boundaries. We reveal how the students, working in groups and acting as consultants to industry clients, developed specific boundary-spanning skills learned through observation and practice (mimesis), and reflection. Namely, (1) working with others with different disciplines to establish roles and processes to operate successfully as a group, (2) establishing productive communication with other groups of diverse disciplines as part of project processes, (3) eliciting information from other groups of diverse specialists, and (4) managing an inclusive discussion process among other groups of diverse specialists for agreement. We discuss how these insights about mimesis and reflection add to pedagogic debates about instruction for interdisciplinary and inter-organizational learning and the implications for management education and development practice.

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