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Anne Arzberger & Steffi Menten,* Stephan Balvert, Tim Korteland, Cristina Zaga, Eva Verhoef, Deborah Forster, and David Abbink

* Shared first authors

Transdisciplinary (TD) knowledge integration is required to tackle complex societal challenges, such as shaping the future of work for nursing care in the face of workforce shortages. However, moving from theoretical considerations on what makes TD work to real-world practice is hard and often case-specific, leaving little room for actionable methodological guidelines. The aim of this paper is to disseminate TD content and process learnings from a 6-month pilot project at a Dutch academic hospital. The project was commissioned by a senior human-robot interaction researcher in December 2022 after he presented a vision of transdisciplinary research integration to shape the future of work. This vision translated into an approach where roboticists, designers, psychologists, organisational scholars, and nurses strived to integrate academic, professional, and experiential knowledge. As a result, the core project activities were performed by a team of four junior researchers representing four out of five of these disciplines in collaboration with eight practising nurses. We particularly focus on the second half of the project, where, over the course of three months, the core project team engaged in a four-stage TD research process:

  1. Grounding in literature and research site
  2. Understanding current nursing work processes
  3. Joint exploration of preferable and plausible future work processes supported by robotics (TD workshop)
  4. Sensemaking and joint reflection

This paper aims to capture our learnings about content—the lived experience of oncology nurses and potential avenues for change on the work floor from an organisational, interaction design, worker and robotics perspective—and about the process—barriers and enablers of transdisciplinary practices as reflected upon by the authors.  We have come to understand this project as a meeting of two hierarchical systems of knowledge production: a TD System (an academic and innovation consortium of which the authors of this paper are part) and a Convergence System (representing the commissioning organisation: academic hospital aimed at accelerating technological innovation in health). Both systems contain academic- and non-academic actors with specific knowledge, expertise, experiences, interests, and power dynamics, providing for rich learnings and challenges within and across (sub)systems.  We report on the project genesis, what content was learned from the four-phase methodology, and most importantly—what we learned about the process that can be taken into subsequent TD projects that aim to understand and shape the future of work with and for workers.

KEYWORDS: transdisciplinary research; human-robot interaction; healthcare design; nursing; human-centred design; organisational change

RSD TOPIC(S): Cases & Practice, Health & Well-Being, Methods & Methodology

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Citation Data

Author(s): Anne Arzberger & Steffi Menten, Stephan Balvert, Tim Korteland, Cristina Zaga, Eva Verhoef, Deborah Forster, and David Abbink
Year: 2023
Title: Barriers and Enablers to Transciplinarity in Practice
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD12

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