From Inside Technology
Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise
Creating New Kinds of Collaboration
A proposal for a new framework for fostering collaborations across disciplines, addressing both theory and practical applications.
Cross-disciplinary collaboration increasingly characterizes today's science and engineering research. The problems and opportunities facing society do not come neatly sorted by discipline. Difficulties arise when researchers from disciplines as different as engineering and the humanities work together and find that they speak largely different languages. This book explores a new framework for fostering collaborations among existing disciplines and expertise communities. The framework unites two ideas to emerge from recent work in STS: trading zones, in which scientific subcultures, each with its own language, develop the equivalents of pidgin and creole; and interactional expertise, in which experts learn to use the language of another research community in ways that are indistinguishable from expert practitioners of that community. A trading zone can gradually become a new area of expertise, facilitated by interactional expertise and involving negotiations over boundary objects (objects represented in different ways by different participants). The volume describes applications of the framework to service science, business strategy, environmental management, education, and practical ethics. One detailed case study focuses on attempts to create trading zones that would help prevent marine bycatch; another investigates trading zones formed to market the female condom to women in Africa; another describes how humanists embedded in a nanotechnology laboratory gained interactional expertise, resulting in improved research results for both humanists and nanoscientists.
Contributors Brad Allenby, Donna T. Chen, Harry Collins, Robert Evans, Erik Fisher, Peter Galison, Michael E. Gorman, Lynn Isabella, Lekelia D. Jenkins, Mary Ann Leeper, Roop L. Mahajan, Matthew M. Mehalik, Ann E. Mills, Bolko von Oetinger, Elizabeth Powell, Mary V. Rorty, Jeff Shrager, Jim Spohrer, Patricia H. Werhane