• Open Access

A Dynamical Approach Toward Understanding Mechanisms of Team Science: Change, Kinship, Tension, and Heritage in a Transdisciplinary Team


  • Gaetano R. Lotrecchiano Ed.D., Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    • Assistant Professor of Clinical Research and Leadership and of Pediatrics, Program Director, Clinical and Translational Science Programs, George Washington University, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Correspondence: Gaetano R. Lotrecchiano (glotrecc@gwu.edu)


Since the concept of team science gained recognition among biomedical researchers, social scientists have been challenged with investigating evidence of team mechanisms and functional dynamics within transdisciplinary teams. Identification of these mechanisms has lacked substantial research using grounded theory models to adequately describe their dynamical qualities. Research trends continue to favor the measurement of teams by isolating occurrences of production over relational mechanistic team tendencies. This study uses a social constructionist-grounded multilevel mixed methods approach to identify social dynamics and mechanisms within a transdisciplinary team. A National Institutes of Health—funded research team served as a sample. Data from observations, interviews, and focus groups were qualitatively coded to generate micro/meso level analyses. Social mechanisms operative within this biomedical scientific team were identified. Dynamics that support such mechanisms were documented and explored. Through theoretical and emergent coding, four social mechanisms dominated in the analysis—change, kinship, tension, and heritage. Each contains relational social dynamics. This micro/meso level study suggests such mechanisms and dynamics are key features of team science and as such can inform problems of integration, praxis, and engagement in teams.