The effect of interdisciplinary teamwork on creativity through knowledge heterogeneity and synthesis in a technological domain


  • Jelmer Mulder Institute of Physics, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Saraf Nawar Civil Engineering & Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN Delft, The Netherlands
  • Joelle De Groot Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062 PA Rotterdam
  • Marco Zambello Mechanical Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD Delft, The Netherlands



Interdisciplinary, Team, Creativity, Team Work, Divergent Phase, Brainstorming, Ideas


In this paper, creativity of students in interdisciplinary (ID) teams during the divergent (brainstorming and idea generation) phase is studied. The background of the students varied between undergraduate and graduate studies, and the creativity was stimulated amidst a discussion involving innovative solutions for the future of existing technologies In addition, the effect of knowledge heterogeneity and -synthesis is discussed. The study is conducted via a survey among the participants of the Delft/CERN IdeaSquare eSummer School 2020, held online from June 2020 to August 2020. The surveyed cohort was asked about the quantity of the generated ideas and their agreement to different statements, regarding size of the knowledge gap, effort to communicate and provide feedback, enjoyment, productivity and composition of their teams. The majority of the responding students believed they would produce the same or more ideas in ID teams, compared to that during monodisciplinary team work. We compared the agreement (between 0% and 100%) with the number of individual ideas and found a correlation for each mentioned category. This study is a first step to show that ID teams in a technological setting can be more productive. Further research should be done to repeat the experiment in a more controlled environment and solidify the hypothesis.


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How to Cite

Mulder, J., Nawar, S. ., De Groot, J. ., & Zambello, M. . (2021). The effect of interdisciplinary teamwork on creativity through knowledge heterogeneity and synthesis in a technological domain. CERN IdeaSquare Journal of Experimental Innovation, 5(2), 50–55.



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