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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 513311
Title Engineers at the Patient’s Bedside: : The Case of Silence in Inter-institutional Educational Innovation
Author(s) Verouden, Nick; Sanden, M.C.A. van der; Aarts, M.N.C.
Source In: The Silences of Science / Mellor, Felicity, Webster, Stephen, London : Routledge - ISBN 9781472459978 - p. 89 - 112.
Department(s) Strategic Communication
WASS
Publication type Peer reviewed book chapter
Publication year 2016
Abstract Innovation in science and technology is increasingly linked with interdisciplinarity. Encouraging this trend depends in part on cutting-edge educational programmes that revise, reinvent and redesign curricula as interdisciplinary vehicles, establishing and re-establishing relations between traditional fields and areas of expertise (Stone et al., 1999; Casey, 1994). Such programmes are valuable because they can overcome ‘silo’ mentalities and equip prospective students with the skills and knowledge necessary for understanding and solving complex societal problems (Stone et al.,1999; McFadden et al., 2010). Although these programmes are very promising, their development and

implementation also brings challenges. The literature on curriculum development shows that many programmes have struggled to achieve true integration (McFadden et al., 2010; Stone et al., 1999). Dam-Mieras et al. (2008), in their study of an international master’s programme in sustainable development and management developed collaboratively by nine universities, observed that universities have their own experts and own programmes and that the ‘not invented here’ argument influences how details about new programme are discussed. Focussing on innovative online instruction courses, Xu and Morris (2007) found that the absence of group cohesiveness between faculty and project coordinators can hinder the collaborative course development process and affect the quality of the end product. Stone et al. (1999) emphasize that faculty members and administrators work at cross-purposes and view each other’s initiatives with suspicion. Given the importance that scientists, academic institutions and policy makers ascribe to innovation, along with their assumption that such innovation is a sure result of interdisciplinarity, it is essential to gain a better understanding of how curriculum development in academic education actually works. For this chapter, we consider how processes of connecting and inter-

relating could add to our understanding of the problems and dilemmas that arise in developing and implementing such programmes. Scholars of innovation, in science and technology and beyond, have explained that innovation is not some abstract algorithm: it relies on interaction and collaboration between

multiple actors with different expertises, visions, priorities and investment (Van Bommel et al., 2011; Leeuwis and Aarts, 2011; Akrich et al., 2002; Fonseca, 2002). This process of interacting is very difficult, however, and creates many tensions. This is revealed by studies that show the lurking problems of connecting previously unconnected people around new ideas and technologies. These studies show how innovation processes become defined by competition for scarce resources, protracted negotiations over priorities and interests, and dynamics of inclusion and exclusion (Leeuwis andAarts, 2011; Pretty, 1995; Van Bommel et al., 2011). Fonseca (2002) hence explains that innovation always creates a paradoxical situation, in which organizations, in their search to accelerate change and adapt to and find solutions for external challenges and demands, unavoidably create new and unpredictable interactional patterns. Given that interacting is a complicated matter in innovation processes, a

key question within the management of innovation literature is how we can account for the way relevant actors connect, or fail to connect (Akrich et al., 2002). In this respect, verbal communication is often cited as an essential mechanism for effectively connecting important actors and social groups around innovative ideas, products, or technologies (Van Bommel et al., 2011). In turn, the markers of effective verbal communication as a frame for innovation are seen to be openness, dialogue, and the ability to cooperate and be reflective on one’s thoughts and actions (Stilgoe et al., 2013). Thorp and Goldstein (2010), writing about university innovation, describe conversations as the fertile ground from which innovation grows and urge us to make time and space for those conversations. Dialogue and openness are seen as indicators of the quality of interaction, and process transparency as a decisive component of academic innovation. By being open or transparent in discussing issues and problems, actors build confidence that negotiation is ‘real’ and not a cover-up for private backroom deals (de Bruijn and ten Heuvelhof, 2008). Although there is a wealth of research on communication for innovation,

most scholarly work focuses on what is exchanged verbally, on how actors collate all the relevant evidence, put it on the table and discuss it openly. As of yet, silence is absent from these studies of communication for innovation. Building on recent organizational and strategy scholarship, in which silence is approached as an intricate concept with powerful functions and meanings in social interaction (Van Assche and Costaglioli, 2012; Carter et al., 2008; Henriksen and Dayton, 2006; Panteli and Fineman, 2005; Tucker and Edmondson, 2003; Jaworski, 2005; Morrison and Milliken, 2000), we suggest that silence merits much more attention in analyses of academic innovation. This chapter therefore explores the role of moments of silence during interactions within networks developing and implementing educational innovation. The structure of this chapter is as follows. We start by looking at the litera-

ture on dynamic innovation networks and communication and complement these insights with scholarship on silence within organization studies. After briefly introducing our approach, we present the findings of a study of an inter-institutional and interdisciplinary joint bachelor’s programme that was

implemented at the interface of health and technology. The purpose of the study was to better understand the significance of moments of silence in developing and implementing this programme. We end with the implications of our findings for steering in the context of interdisciplinary innovation.
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