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A QUANTITATIVE SYSTEM FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF INITIAL ORGANIZATIONAL NEEDS IN TRANSDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH

A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the College of Natural Science Michigan State University

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Science

by

David Gordon Gossman

June 1979

CHAPTER III

A SYSTEMATIC MODEL OF SPECIALTY RELATIONSHIPS

The relationships among different specialties or discipline areas can greatly affect the ease of relating them in an interdisciplinary manner. Numerous schemes have been developed attempting to organize and/or show relationships among the scientific disciplines. Some of these schemes are hierarchical in nature, some are not, and it seems nearly every scientist has his own way of looking at these relationships. Despite this problematic situation I will attempt to place the disciplines into some degree of order using a systematic conceptual model developed after a discussion with and using some suggestions from Dr. Koenig(12).

The model is based on two basic premises. The first is that all discipline areas can be placed on an unidimensional continuum and that each discipline is bounded on both ends, thereby taking up some segment of the continuum. Discipline areas can overlap and do not necessarily fill in all gaps. (See Figure (III-1).

Disciplines - A B C

Continuum

FIGURE III-1 DISCIPLINES CONTINUUM MODEL

The second premise is that all disciplines fit into one of two basic divisions. The first division involves disciplines wherein the primary involvement is observation and explanation of events after their occurrence, hereafter referred to as "T-plus disciplines". The second division includes those disciplines wherein the prediction of events and model design is the primary activity; they will be referred to as "T-minus disciplines".

In order to better accommodate both of these basic premises, the circumference of a circle is used instead of a straight line representation. In addition, some arbitrary divisions of the circle have been introduced in order to make the conceptual model more convenient. These divisions are shown in Table III-1. The systematic conceptual model of scientific disciplines is presented in Figure III-2.

One notable observation in the model is the small number of disciplines in the T-minus levels three and four. This seems to be the result of a lack of enough firm background material on the T-plus side of the model in those levels. This seems quite reasonable since there is an obvious and understand a system before modification of that system can occur.

TABLE III-1 LEVELS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY


Level # Description Example Disciplines 
1 Small scale-things Physical Science, Engineering
2 Large scale-things Ecology, Systems Engineering
3 Small scale-people Psychology, Intelligence Modeling
4 Large scale-people Sociology, Economics

T+ observation after the fact (t-plus)

T- prediction, model design (t-minus)

FIGURE III-2 A SYSTEMATIC CONCEPTUAL MODEL OF SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINES

Continue to Chapter IV