Unlike other volumes in the current literature, this book provides insight for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary researchers and practitioners on what doesn’t work. Documenting detailed case studies of project failure matters, not only as an illustration of experienced challenges but also as projects do not always follow step-by-step protocols of preconceived and theorised processes.

Bookended by a framing introduction by the editors and a conclusion written by Julie Thompson Klein, each chapter ends with a reflexive section that synthesizes lessons learned and key take-away points for the reader. Drawing on a wide range of international case studies and with a strong environmental thread throughout, the book reveals a range of failure scenarios for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary projects, including:

• Projects that did not get off the ground;

• Projects that did not have the correct personnel for specified objectives;

• Projects that did not reach their original objectives but met other objectives;

• Projects that failed to anticipate important differences among collaborators.

Illustrating causal links in real life projects, this volume will be of significant relevance to scholars and practitioners looking to overcome the challenges of conducting interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research.

chapter 1|20 pages

Theoretical and empirical perspectives on failure

An introduction
ByMichael O’Rourke, Dena Fam

chapter 2|22 pages

Re-thinking failure

Using design science theory and methods, including design-thinking, for successful transdisciplinary health and social interventions
ByLinda Neuhauser, Talya Brettler, Dennis Boyle

part I|52 pages

Institutional environments associated with failure

chapter 3|17 pages

Stem cells and serendipity

Unburdening social scientists’ feelings of failure
ByIsabel Fletcher, Catherine Lyall

chapter 4|16 pages

A fragile existence

A transdisciplinary food systems research program cut short
ByBill Bellotti, Fred D’Agostino

chapter 5|17 pages

Over-promising and under-delivering

Institutional and social networks influencing the emergence of urine diversion systems in Queensland, Australia
ByCara Beal, Dena Fam, Stewart Clegg

part II|52 pages

Failures and responses associated with collaboration and stakeholder engagement

chapter 6|17 pages

Failure and what to do next

Lessons from the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative
ByMichael O’Rourke, Stephen Crowley, Sanford D. Eigenbrode, Stephanie E. Vasko

chapter 7|17 pages

Failure to consider local political processes and power relations in the development of a transdisciplinary research project plan

Learning lessons from a stormy start
ByIrena Leisbet Ceridwen Connon

chapter 8|16 pages

A week in the life of a transdisciplinary researcher

Failures in research to support policy for water-quality management in New Zealand’s South Island
ByMelissa Robson-Williams, Bruce Small, Roger Robson-Williams

part III|32 pages

Personal reflection on failed initiatives through an autoethnographic lens

chapter 9|16 pages

Reframing failure and the Indigenous doctoral journey

ByJason De Santolo

part IV|74 pages

Failure in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary educational programs

chapter 11|17 pages

The challenges of studying place

Learning from the failures of an experimental, interdisciplinary and community-engaged environmental studies course
ByValerie Imbruce, Miroslava Prazak

chapter 12|19 pages

Transdisciplinary learning within tertiary institutions – a space to skin your knees

ByDena Fam, Abby Mellick Lopes, Cynthia Mitchell

chapter 14|16 pages

Failing and the perception of failure in student-driven transdisciplinary projects

ByUlli Vilsmaier, Annika Thalheimer

part |16 pages


chapter 15|14 pages

Failure is an option

Lessons for success
ByJulie Thompson Klein