The Oxford Internet Institute is excited to welcome James Evans from the University of Chicago for the talk 'Large Teams Develop and Small Teams Disrupt Science and Technology'. There will be a drinks reception after the talk.

One of the most universal shifts in science and technology today is the growth of large teams in all areas as solitary researchers and small teams diminish. Increases in team size are attributed to the specialization of scientific activities, communication technology, and the unproven claim that modern problems are complex and require interdisciplinary teams to solve. This fundamental shift raises an important question: How do large and small teams differ in the character of the science and technology they produce? Here, analyzing teamwork from more than 65 million papers, patents, and software products, 1954-2014, we demonstrate across this period that smaller teams tend to disrupt science and technology with new ideas and opportunities, while larger teams tend to develop existing ones. Work from larger teams builds on more recent, popular developments, and attention to that work comes immediately, while contributions by smaller teams search more deeply into the past, are viewed as disruptive to science and technology and succeed further into the future, if at all. Observed differences between small and large teams magnify with impact—small teams have become known for disruptive work and large teams for developing work.  Differences in topic and research design account for a small part of the relationship between team size and disruption, but most of the effect occurs within people, as they move between smaller and larger teams. These results demonstrate that both small and large teams are essential to a flourishing ecology of science and technology, which suggests that science policy support both small and large teams for the sustainable vitality of science and technology.