Lingfei Wu; Dashun Wang;
James A. Evans
Nature volume 566, pages 378–382 (2019)
One of the most universal trends in science and technology today is the growth of large teams in all areas, as solitary researchers and small teams diminish in prevalence. In this paper the authors analyze more than 65 million papers, patents and software products that span the period 1954–2014, and demonstrate that across this period smaller teams have tended to disrupt science and technology with new ideas and opportunities, whereas larger teams have tended to develop existing ones. Observed differences between small and large teams are magnified for higher-impact work, with small teams known for disruptive work and large teams for developing work. The results demonstrate that both small and large teams are essential to a flourishing ecology of science and technology, and suggest that, to achieve this, science policies should aim to support a diversity of team sizes.
Dean, Kellogg School of Management,