Multidisciplinary Research and Extension Team Evolution: Processes, Outcomes, and Strategies

Daren Redfearn, Jay Parsons, Mary Drewnoski

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Core Ideas: Decision makers in production agriculture synthesize information from multiple disciplines. Research and extension institutions mainly deliver information from a primary discipline perspective to decision makers. Government and academia recognize the importance of multidisciplinary research and extension teams. Developing successful multidisciplinary research and extension teams is challenging. There are no proven metrics yet to measure goal achievement or models that support growth. Team-based research is not an innovative concept; however, the current models of team research are based principally on self-formed teams with a defined duration. Current trends seem to point toward the development of administratively designed multidisciplinary teams. Although this seems logical, minimal guidelines exist to aid in team development or evaluate team outcomes. Critical processes in a team-based research atmosphere have not been identified, much less described, and strategies for successful implementation have not been proposed. The strength of this approach can be summarized as a unified focus during the course of problem definition and solution. Many trade-offs and obstacles are apparent with a broad-based focus. Chief obstacles and barriers include sustaining the balance between remaining small in size and focused on a problem while fitting into the departmental culture. Internal administrative support is mandatory for building a successful multidisciplinary research team. The required interdependence of multidisciplinary team research requires administrators, as well as peers, to recognize the positive value of each contribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalAgricultural and Environmental Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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