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Introduction: Trading Zones, Interactional Expertise, and Collaboration Michael E. Gorman The problems and opportunities facing our civilization do not come neatly sorted by disciplines. This book outlines a framework for fostering collaborations among existing expertise communities that have radically different views and practices—what Kuhn called different paradigms, or exemplars (Kuhn 1962). However, the 2006–2011 NSF Strategic Plan ( emphasizes the importance of collaborating across paradigmatic barriers: Discovery increasingly requires the expertise of individuals with different perspectives—from different disciplines and often from different nations—working together to accommodate the extraordinary complexity of today’s science and engineering challenges. The convergence of disciplines and the cross-fertilization that characterizes contemporary science and engineering have made collaboration a centerpiece of the science and engineering enterprise. Recent National Science Foundation initiatives like nanotechnology emphasize collaboration across not only scientific and engineering disciplines, but also the social sciences and humanities (Roco and Bainbridge 2001, 2002). As Davis Baird articulated in his testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (May 1, 2003), “Ethicists need to go into the lab to understand what’s possible. Scientists and engineers need to engage with humanists to start thinking about this aspect of their work. Only thus, working together in dialog, will we make genuine progress on the societal and ethical issues that nanotechnology poses.” The convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science will produce revolutionary changes in our civilization (Rejeski 2004). For example, this convergence could change our species in dramatic ways. In the developed world, minds are already distributed across a wide range of information devices like laptops and Web servers and BlackBerries; these same technologies make it possible to create new global cybercommunities (Monge and Contractor 2003). What would happen if these technologies interfaced directly with a genetically modified nervous system? Could the convergence revolution lead to greatly extended 1 2 Michael E. Gorman capabilities for the wealthy, to the point where they become almost a different species from the poorest of the poor? Managing this revolution will require collaboration among ethicists, social scientists, scientists, engineers, policy makers, and stakeholders around the world (Gorman 2008). This volume will introduce a new theoretical framework for understanding and promoting this kind of collaboration across disciplines and cultures. The framework emerges from cutting-edge work in science, technology, and society (STS), history, and the psychology of science. The genesis of the volume and the framework was a 2006 workshop on Trading Zones, Interactional Expertise, and Interdisciplinary Collaboration held at Arizona State University’s Decision Theater, a facility designed to encourage collaboration among different stakeholders. The workshop was supported by the National Science Foundation (SES-0526096), the Boston Consulting Group, and the Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes ( Tradzoneworkshop/).1 Over four days, participants presented their own research on and practical experience of the core concepts in the framework. In addition to STS, areas of expertise included cognitive science, ethics, business, nanotechnology, computer science, policy, and jazz. My premise in organizing the workshop was that it made sense to try to connect two new STS ideas that had implications for trading zones. Peter Galison, in his Image and Logic (1997), had described how trading zones helped him explain how apparently incommensurable research communities could work together to develop radar and particle detectors. Then, Harry Collins and Robert Evans (2002) had emphasized that STS had to deal with the content of expertise, and had proposed a significant new category: interactional expertise. Based on these ideas, I had written a commentary in which I suggested how trading zones and interactional expertise could be combined into a framework for multidisciplinary collaboration (Gorman 2002). Participants working in a trading zone to develop a new system would have different views of that system, based on their interests and areas of expertise. Therefore a technology in the making, like improved radar or a Mars Rover, might serve as a boundary object. This concept was introduced to explain coordination of activities across a diverse set of stakeholders involved in the development of Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology from 1907 to 1939 (Star and Griesemer 1989). These stakeholders formed what we would now call a trading zone. Annie Montague Alexander, the museum’s primary backer and director, wanted as complete a collection as possible of California species, while the zoologist Joseph Grinnell wanted a much more complete picture of the ecosystem of California and the University...


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