Grand Challenges and Emergent Modes of Convergence Science

46 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2021

See all articles by Alexander Michael Petersen

Alexander Michael Petersen

University of California Merced, Ernest and Julio Gallo Management Program

Mohammed Ahmed

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ioannis Pavlidis

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: October 10, 2020

Abstract

In order to address complex problems, scholars are increasingly faced with challenges of integrating diverse knowledge domains. We analyzed the evolution of this convergence paradigm in the broad ecosystem of brain science, which provides a real-time testbed for evaluating two modes of cross-domain integration -- subject area exploration via expansive learning and cross-disciplinary collaboration among domain experts. Our results show that research involving both modes features a 16\% citation premium relative to a mono-disciplinary baseline. However, research utilizing cross-domain subject area exploration alone -- a convergence shortcut -- is less effective at integrating domains, markedly less impactful and yet to produce breakthroughs, despite growing faster than alternative cross-disciplinary modes. This counterproductive pattern may derive from internetization of expansive learning approaches to problem solving and the competitive pressures deriving from the current era of global flagship funding initiatives. Without additional policy support, such flagship initiates may unintentionally incentivize convergence science shortcuts that undercut the role of domain expertise in challenges calling upon convergent problem solving.

Keywords: science policy, science funding, convergence science, cross-disciplinary, team assembly, diversity, Human Brain Project

JEL Classification: O52, O51, O53, O31, O32, F02, C33, Q55, D85

Suggested Citation

Petersen, Alexander Michael and Ahmed, Mohammed and Pavlidis, Ioannis, Grand Challenges and Emergent Modes of Convergence Science (October 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3755704 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3755704

Alexander Michael Petersen (Contact Author)

University of California Merced, Ernest and Julio Gallo Management Program ( email )

School of Engineering
Science & Engineering 2, Suite 315
Merced, CA 95343
United States

Mohammed Ahmed

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ioannis Pavlidis

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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