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skills had superior economic performance compared

The problems of fitting interdisciplinary, inter-sector

to firms that didn’t integrate as extensively .

innovative work into a world structured by sectors

These findings are consistent with a broad body of

and disciplines are illustrated during the Fuse survey.

knowledge highlighting the importance of knowledge

Approximately half the firms that self-report to be in

integration. This integration occurred despite most

digital creative economy are outside the traditional

systems of education, training, research and career

SIC codes used to capture them. These findings

development being very discipline based. The

support the current attempts to reformulate industrial

university research system, for example, is currently

categories and redefine SIC codes, but go further.

evaluated in ways that penalise interdisciplinary

Economic growth is driven by innovation, which

work . Clearly, interdisciplinary and disciplinary

requires integrating wider and wider sources of

approaches are complements rather than alternatives

knowledge. Improving SIC codes and classifications

and the qualitative research highlighted how a strong

is a step in the right direction, but the Fuse analysis

Arts & Humanities background could provide the

suggests the economy is constantly changing so,

basis for interdisciplinary collaboration. At the same

however accurate current SIC codes are, future

time, it showed how difficult it is for firms to effectively

innovation is likely to cut across them. Kinds of

encourage interdisciplinary integration.

firms, kinds of skills, kinds of knowledge and

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Part of the problem is that people live and socialise in unfused professional, disciplinary and social communities. When these different cultures are brought together, it often exposes cultural mismatches rather than creative opportunities. Firms have to actively manage and encourage this integration and force it to work in projects.

classified together in single categories for very long. Digital innovations don’t just rely on digital skills, and people with digital skills don’t just work in digital firms and sectors.

2. Clusters and the geography of place

Outside work, events and creative spaces such as

The importance of interdisciplinary work in the

the Brighton Digital Festival are also important in

Brighton creative and digital cluster reflects the

bringing these unfused communities together. Given

complex and extensive division of labour that exists

this fusion generates significant economic benefits,

in modern economies. As Adam Smith highlighted,

a question arises about why all firms don’t do it:

as the economy grows and markets expand the

the qualitative research suggests the reason for this

division of labour is extended and jobs become more

is it is difficult, it requires a lot of work, and real

specialised. Importantly, he highlighted this occurs

interdisciplinary skills are in very short supply.

within organisations and between organisations

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With cross sectional survey data there is a possibility that this correlation is reflecting statistical endogeneity rather than causality. For example, the relationship could be driven by higher performing firms using their higher profits to pay for interdisciplinary knowledge integration, even though this has no impact on performance. This is unlikely as we would intuitively expect weaker, not better performing, firms to be wasting resources on pointless activity. Moreover, there is a strong and robust research base showing the economic value of knowledge integration. While some of the effect may be driven by endogeneity, the effects are large enough that we can be reasonably confident the findings are robust.

Rafols, I., Leydesdorff, L., O’Hare, A., Nightingale, P. and Stirling, A. (2012), How journal rankings can suppress interdisciplinary research. A comparison of innovation studies and business & management. Research Policy, 41 (7). pp. 1262-1282.

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kinds of innovation can no longer be meaningfully

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