Teaming in biotechnology commercialisation: The diversity-performance connection and how university programmes can make a difference


interdisciplinary teams


Collaboration across disciplines in the sciences is on the rise. Yet, practitioner papers abound that describe a range of dysfunctional team experiences, especially in contexts where science and business intersect. A critical issue currently preventing successful bioscience commercialisation is management's lack of ‘soft skills,’ such as the ability to direct complex and functionally diverse teams to achieve productive outcomes. Our paper first reviews the diversity and teaming literature from several disciplinary perspectives in order to better understand how different types of diversity affect team outcomes and processes, as well as how to create higher functioning teams to engage in bioscience technology commercialisation. Research suggests that the ‘surface-level’ diversity issues associated with demographic and disciplinary differences may diminish over time, as team members move beyond initial stereotypes and gain more knowledge about their fellow group members. However, problems stemming from ‘deep-level’ diversity such as personality and values differences are more difficult to overcome and require a high degree of interaction frequency among team members, as well as strong communication skills. Going beyond the literature review, we demonstrate how these ‘lessons learned’ can be addressed through bioscience entrepreneurship education, using a case study of a Midwestern university programme funded by an NSF Partnerships for Innovation grant.

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