Brain power

Innovation is increasingly a collaborative affair

Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.

Is the pace of disruption in science slowing down or speeding up? The answer isn’t straightforward. With the explosion of scientific research, the likelihood of any single scientist causing a major upheaval in their field is diminishing.

Yet, when we look at science as a whole—the collective impact of fresh discoveries that often supplant established knowledge—it’s evident that the level of disruption remains robust, if not more so than it was half a century ago.

Essentially, the scientific world continues to experience its fair share of disruption, even though an individual’s role in this ever-expanding landscape may be diminishing.

A recent study1, from the University of Tennessee, holds particular relevance for those involved in innovation, industry, scientific policymaking, and education. While it may seem discouraging that our individual influence on innovation is waning, there’s a silver lining. The realm of science and innovation is thriving because it increasingly relies on the collaboration of large, diverse, and multidisciplinary teams of researchers.

“In an exponentially–expanding world of information and innovation,” the authors explain, “we each have a smaller role to play. But overall, the pace of disruption, cultural and technological change still accelerates.”

The paper combines the perspectives of expertise in cultural evolution, complexity theory, ecology, and the evolution of technology. The finding that disruption is steady but individuals’ role is shrinking is a confirmation that science and innovation increasingly involve the collaboration of large, diverse, and multi–disciplinary teams of researchers.

Article source: Innovation Is Increasingly A Collaborative Affair.

Header image source: Created by Bruce Boyes with Perchance AI Photo Generator.


  1. Bentley, R. A., Valverde, S., Borycz, J., Vidiella, B., Horne, B. D., Duran-Nebreda, S., & O’Brien, M. J. (2023). Is disruption decreasing, or is it accelerating?. arXiv preprint arXiv:2306.14364.
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Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organizing systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and enjoy exploring the edge of organizational behavior. I specialize in finding the many great things that are happening in the world, and helping organizations apply these changes to their own environments. I also blog for some of the biggest sites in the industry, including Forbes, Social Business News, Social Media Today and, whilst also covering the latest trends in the social business world on my own website. I have also delivered talks on the subject for the likes of the NUJ, the Guardian, Stevenage Bioscience and CMI, whilst also appearing on shows such as BBC Radio 5 Live and Calgary Today.

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