Date of Award

Spring 5-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Management and Policy

First Advisor

Julia Melkers

Second Advisor

Gregory Lewis

Third Advisor

Diana Hicks

Fourth Advisor

Alan Porter

Fifth Advisor

Michael Hoffmann


Drawing on a wide variety of social science theories, this study investigates the effects of tenure system, university climate for interdisciplinary research (IDR), gender, and industry experience on academic scientists’ engagement in IDR in different disciplines. Using survey and bibliometric data, two dependent variables are generated to measure production aspects of IDR: the self-reported percentage of IDR papers which is from researchers’ own estimate of their IDR papers responding to one survey question, and the calculated percentage of IDR papers which is a combination of two bibliometric indicators of scientists’ borrowing and boundary crossing activities. Results find that our conventional wisdom about the effects of some individual and organizational factors on scientists’ propensity to engage in IDR is outdated, and their effects depend on the disciplinary contexts. These findings suggest science policy makers, funding agencies and university administrators to keep fresh and informed about scientists’ research activities and underlying context and take full into account of distinct characteristics of different disciplines when they make or reform policies to encourage IDR work.