Approaches to joint problem-solving in multi-disciplinary distributed teams

Fahnenmüller, Lennart and Wodehouse, Andrew (2016) Approaches to joint problem-solving in multi-disciplinary distributed teams. In: 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, 2016-09-08 - 2016-09-09.

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This paper focuses on the different approaches that multidisciplinary teams adopt when solving a design problem. After a literature review on terms regarding work across more than one discipline, the Disciplinarity Matrix merges the terminology present across literature into a single classification, displaying which kind of multidisciplinary work can be expected depending on the project setup, followed an application on an educational Global Design Project across four universities in which students designed an artefact in a distributed, multidisciplinary team. Their approaches are discussed and the design output is taken into account in order to classify and evaluate the teams’ success. The key findings include that both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches can be successful, but need sufficient resources, especially time, to unfold their potential. Recommendations for multidisciplinary team work are not limited to the setup, but include requirements such as openness, a common language and moderation skills, which provide avenues to successful work in both educational and industrial multidisciplinary projects.