Managing transdisciplinary sustainability research: navigating different logics at the interface

Frances Harris, Fergus Lyon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The complex problems facing sustainability requires complex research collaborations between organisations representing multiple professions such as business, public policy, civil society and academia. But how does such research at the interface occur and what capabilities are required? This paper systematically reviews the literature on collaborative sustainability related research across organisational and professional boundaries. We refer to this as transdisciplinary research and explore the different logics (approaches, methodologies, goals and values) that are drawn together. Commonly identified logics include (among others) environmental value creation, social value creation, commercial objectives and academic knowledge generation. While there has been much research on the challenges of transdisciplinarity in sustainability, the actual processes of managing inter organisational and cross profession research and associated tensions at the interface has had less attention. This paper presents a framework that sets out how projects operating at the interface manage the tensions at each stage of the research process. The paper shows how a key competence for the transdisciplinary researcher is the ability to manage the paradox of having multiple logics at one time. The paper concludes by presenting a research agenda for managing transdisciplinarity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Annual Proceedings 2017
EditorsGuclu Atinc
ISBN (Electronic)21516561
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
EventThe 77th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management - Atlanta, United States
Duration: 4 Aug 20179 Aug 2017


ConferenceThe 77th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
Abbreviated titleAOM 2017: At The Interface
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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