Multidisciplinary approach
A multidisciplinary approach to problem solving involves drawing appropriately from multiple disciplines to redefine problems outside of normal boundaries and reach solutions based on a new understanding of complex situations.

Multidisciplinary working is often seen as revolutionary by skill-centred specialists but it is simply a fundamental expression of being guided by holism
Holism is the idea that all the properties of a given system cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone...

 rather than reductionism
Reductionism can mean either an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can...

, as described by Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, PC was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948...

 in his 1926 book Holism and Evolution. One of the major barriers to the multidisciplinary approach is the long established tradition of highly focused professional practitioners cultivating a protective (and thus restrictive) boundary around their area of expertise. This tradition has sometimes been found not to work to the benefit of the wider public interest, and the multidisciplinary approach has recently become of interest to government agencies and some enlightened professional bodies who recognise the advantages of systems thinking for complex problem solving.

The use of the term 'multidisciplinary' has in recent years been overtaken by the term
'interdisciplinary' (a Google ratio of 86:214 in mid-August 2006) for what is essentially holistic working by another name. The former term tends to relate to practitioner led working while the latter term tends to carry a more academic overtone.


Historically the first practical use of the multidisciplinary approach was during the Second World War by what became known as the military-industrial complex
Military-industrial complex
Military–industrial complex , or Military–industrial-congressional complex is a concept commonly used to refer to policy and monetary relationships between legislators, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them...

. Notably the Lockheed Aircraft Company set up its own special projects operation - nicknamed the skunk works
Skunk works
Skunk Works is an official alias for Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs , formerly called Lockheed Advanced Development Projects. Skunk Works is responsible for a number of famous aircraft designs, including the U-2, the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-117 Nighthawk, and the F-22 Raptor...

 - in 1943 to develop the XP-80 jet fighter aircraft in just 143 days.

In the 1960s and 1970s the multidisciplinary approach was successfully employed in the UK by architects, engineers and quantity surveyors working together on major public sector construction projects and, together with planners, sociologists, geographers and economists, on overseas regional and urban planning projects. Three London based professional practices led the field: Ove Arup & Partners, Colin Buchanan & Partners and Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM).

Most recently the multidisciplinary method of working has been adopted in the specialist field of computer security
Computer security
Computer security is a branch of computer technology known as information security as applied to computers and networks. The objective of computer security includes protection of information and property from theft, corruption, or natural disaster, while allowing the information and property to...

 by practitioners such as Gene Spafford
Gene Spafford
Eugene Howard Spafford , commonly known as Spaf, is a professor of computer science at Purdue University and a leading computer security expert....

 and Sarah Gordon
Sarah Gordon
Sarah Gordon is a computer security researcher, responsible for early scientific and academic work on virus writers, hackers, and social issues in computing She was among the first computer scientists to propose a multidisciplinary approach to computer security...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.