This study is derived from the claim that multidisciplinary groups are more innovative than homogeneous groups; a claim that has flooded the business industry and has become criteria for accreditation in higher education. However, the impact of disciplinary diversity in work groups is a growing area of research; therefore, it is yet to be thoroughly understood. The purpose of this study is to answer the question: are multidisciplinary teams more innovative than homogenous teams. To accomplish this university students from differing majors were sorted into multidisciplinary and homogeneous groups while participating in a two-day innovation course. The course taught the students about divergent thinking, and invited them to work as teams to develop an innovative product, system or service. Each group's final product was independently judged by three experts using the Creative Solutions Diagnosis Scale (CSDS) measuring the innovativeness (functional creativity) of student work. The homogeneous groups outscored the multidisciplinary groups in every category. Group dynamics have been assessed as also playing a vital role in the successfulness of a diverse group. The Teamwork Quality Questionnaire (TWQ) was used to measure the quality of team interactions, student sentiments, and student attitude. These self-evaluations were used to assess if the group dynamics played a significant role in the functional creativity of the end product by checking for correlation with the results of the CSDS. The findings were inconclusive, meaning they did not correlate. Despite the findings not aligning with past research, they should be considered important. At a minimum, they describe a context and environment where multidisciplinary groups do not function at the same level as homogenous groups. Accordingly, there is a need to further investigate group formations and function in regards to innovation and creativity production. We recommend for future research performing a similar study on a larger scale to discover if the findings from this study would vary when tested under similar or varying contexts. It would also be important to analyze how the make up of the group is affecting the students understanding and learning.
College and Department
Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Technology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Hoover, Blake Howard, "Investigating If Multidisciplinary or Homogenous Teams Are More Innovative in a Higher Education Setting" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 6626.
innovation, functional creativity, multidisciplinary, accreditation