The COVID pandemic has significantly disrupted many international teams, especially those focused on basic and applied research in developing countries. The ongoing challenge of COVID has exposed significant gaps in the formation, functioning and sustainability of international teams. Given the low success probabilities of most proposals, international teams are ephemeral, ever-changing and socially complex. Even successful international research teams are built on the basis of efficiency in satisfying funding priorities, past alliances, ease of communication and similarity of institutional culture. Such teams may not be inclusive and diverse beyond a superficial level required by funding priorities.
The goal of the Building Resilient International Teams (BRIT) project is to examine the role of inclusiveness and diversity in building resilient teams. We suggest that a critical, yet missing element in building teams, especially within international engagement, is team resilience. This resilience capability is what separates those teams that can persist and even improve in the aftermath of a crisis, from those who are prone to crumbling and even permanently collapsing. We hypothesize that international research teams must be implicitly aligned with principles of resilience to ensure their ability to persist and thrive in any environment that their duties may require them to operate within.
Team resilience is quantified using a combination of semi-quantitative (Resilience Matrix) and quantitative (Network Science) approaches. A multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA)-based resilience matrix will allow for informed value tradeoffs of various decision alternatives on team composition based upon predefined research objectives or goals. These interconnected networks will be stress-tested through disruption of link and node connectivity or degradation of functional recovery, efficiency and adaptation capacities. Ultimately, team designs and connection structures will be compared for emergent qualities. The ultimate goal is to quantify resilience in several research teams and assess how the inclusiveness and diversity results in better research outcome and recovery and adaptation to COVID-19 crisis.
We propose to study three trans-disciplinary research groups, all working in Africa on complex socio-ecological issues:
This project applies the emerging science of resilience alongside core concepts of decision science, cognitive psychology, network science, and other fields to generate a synthesized understanding of what team resilience is, as well as how it may be fostered. Though the interdisciplinary and uncertain nature of this research is an early exploration into a broad and challenging research topic, improvements in the space may yield transformative scientific theories and knowledge regarding how teams should be crafted, trained, and maintained over time in academia, the military, business, and other fields.
National Science Foundation (NSF) EAGER grant, “Inclusiveness and Diversity as Building Blocks of Resilient International Research Teams in the Age of COVID-19”. Start Date: 02/01/2021. End Date: 01/31/2023.
Linkov, I., Trump, B., & Kiker, G. (2022). Diversity and inclusiveness are necessary components of resilient international teams. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9(1), 1-5.
Dr. Gregory Kiker
Principal Investigator. Professor of Ecological Modeling and Management in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida.
Dr. Olivier J. Walther
Co-Principal Investigator. Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Florida.
Dr. Erica Odera
Co-Principal Investigator. Specialist in monitoring and evaluation for the USAID Livestock Systems Innovation Laboratory at the University of Florida.
Dr. Igor Linkov
Independent consultant. Expert in resilience and the use of multi-criteria methods