Interdisciplinary Research as Collective Interaction: An Investigation of Interdisciplinarity in the R&D Sector of China’s Biotechnology Industry
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I wish to publish papers using material that is substantially drawn from my thesis.
As China has celebrated its economic boom over the past decades, scientific research within the R&D sector of industry has become an active arena for Science and Technology Studies (STS) in understanding how science contributes to social change in China. Two themes are central in this sociological work: the study of secular change in China, in particular, change in its biotech industries exemplified by work in the BGI (formerly known as Beijing Genomics Institute); the investigation of interdisciplinarity in that context. This research sheds new light on explanatory practice in interdisciplinary research (IDR) strategy as patterns of interaction in the social process of scientific knowledge production, and its contribution also includes bridging the sociology of scientific knowledge production and research policy studies. In this thesis, I examine a number of topics at three interrelated levels of analysis. First, it explores the theoretical development of the academic discipline and the notion of interdisciplinarity, with a focus on the balance of normative and descriptive approaches in understanding their social functionality as embodied by what I name as Paradiscipline (the initial stage of IDR project). The second level investigates closely how IDR patterns emerge and evolve in the sequencing-based industrial R&D practice in the case of the BGI. Social, cultural, and institutional factors directing and conditioning collective actions by status groups within interaction network are carefully weighed against the context that scientific expertise speak to power in China's social setting. The last level is dedicated to yield more pervasive implications including the organizational structure of interaction and modelling of scientific research, via comparative analysis of traditional S&T management and governing 'Big Science'. It further addresses the issues around on-site governance of China's biotechnology industry R&D, at both management practice and policy making levels, on the basis of social embedment.
Exeter Research Scholarship
PhD in Sociology