When and where is transdisciplinary engineering applied in projects? A case study

Alexander Kharlamov, Glenn Parry, Linda Newnes

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding

7 Citations (SciVal)


Transdisciplinary engineering (TE) is gaining attention in academic literature and comes with the underlying assumption of being the next evolutionary step for incorporating engineering solutions in practice. We seek to answer the question of when TE is appropriate and what the conditions are for efficient applications of TE in practice. A framework for analysis is constructed integrating TE with theory of communication and strategic paradox. The framework is used as a lens in a single explorative case of an multi-university research project. The project brings together researchers from a diverse range of disciplines, working together to create a novel device that could have a transformative impact on specific cancer healthcare. Data is collected using structured interviews with project researchers. The main finding from the case study is that TE does not appear to be employed at all levels of abstraction. In this case TE is found to be employed at the strategic level, while tactical and operational levels adopt traditional approaches to working. Effective TE relies heavily on the relationship between specialisation and generalisation. We identify two main roles when it comes to people; specialists and generalists. Specialists (e.g. healthcare, pharmaceuticals & biotechnology) must be able to understand the general picture while the Generalists (e.g. business; operations) must be aware of the requirements and limitations of Specialists. Generalisations for practice and further research are discussed. The main contribution of the work is a framework for analysis of TE.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransdisciplinary Engineering for Complex Socio-technical Systems - Proceedings of the 26th ISTE International Conference on Transdisciplinary Engineering
EditorsKazuo Hiekata, Brian Moser, Masato Inoue, Josip Stjepandic, Nel Wognum
PublisherIOS Press BV
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781614994398
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2019
Event26th ISTE International Conference on Transdisciplinary Engineering, TE 2019 - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 30 Jul 20191 Aug 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Transdisciplinary Engineering


Conference26th ISTE International Conference on Transdisciplinary Engineering, TE 2019


  • Case study
  • Engineering
  • Framework
  • Objects
  • Organizational theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Software
  • Algebra and Number Theory
  • Strategy and Management


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