Internally incentivized interdisciplinarity: Organizational restructuring of research and emerging tensions

Mikko Salmela*, Miles A.J. MacLeod, Johan Munck af Rosenschöld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Interdisciplinarity is widely considered necessary to solving many contemporary problems, and new funding structures and instruments have been created to encourage interdisciplinary research at universities. In this article, we study a small technical university specializing in green technology which implemented a strategy aimed at promoting and developing interdisciplinary collaboration. It did so by reallocating its internal research funds for at least five years to “research platforms” that required researchers from at least two of the three schools within the university to participate. Using data from semi-structured interviews from researchers in three of these platforms, we identify specific tensions that the strategy has generated in this case: (1) in the allocation of platform resources, (2) in the division of labor and disciplinary relations, (3) in choices over scientific output and academic careers. We further show how the particular platform format exacerbates the identified tensions in our case. We suggest that certain features of the current platform policy incentivize shallow interdisciplinary interactions, highlighting potential limits on the value of attempting to push for interdisciplinarity through internal funding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-377
Number of pages23
Early online date17 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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