Reaching beyond disciplines through collaboration: Academics' learning in a national multidisciplinary research programme
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2008
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to analyse and describe the learning that takes place in the interaction between academics from different disciplines and perspectives in collaboration with practitioners. Design/methodology/approach - The research draws on theories of learning that view it in relation to context, where the most significant features of the learning process concern discerning new aspects of a phenomenon. The study focuses on the workplace learning of researchers in a multidisciplinary programme at the National Institute for Working Life in Sweden (NIWL). Data was collected from semi-structured interviews. In the analysis the learning experienced was discerned by identifying how the participants spoke of developing and changing in their work as researchers. Findings - The investigation identified five categories of learning of the academics in the multidisciplinary research programme, namely: deepened awareness of perspectives and concepts; practical development; new awareness of one's competences and professional learning process; flexible professionalism and practical usefulness; insights into research and development processes. Practical implications - The study contributes to an increased understanding of how knowledge production and academics' workplace learning is constituted in multidisciplinary contexts and research programmes involving practitioners from outside academia. Originality/value - In organising and supporting learning and knowledge exchange in inter- or multidisciplinary research programmes with (or without) practitioners, it is essential to be aware of the importance of relational and contextual implications for academics' learning processes.