International Collaborations in Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: Report of a Workshop

International collaborations in behavioral and social sciences research can be immensely fruitful. These collaborations enable researchers to go beyond a view of culture as a static variable to be examined in isolation or controlled in an analysis. They give substance to often-repeated sentiments that the interesting actions are in the interactions––those associations that look different in different settings or contexts. They allow the study of rare health conditions and bio-environment-behavior interactions important to health and disease. They can mobilize a global network to consider and refine important ideas concerning education and psychological interventions, as well as social policies. They can give researchers new insights as they solve an unexpected problem. They can encourage more sensitive importing and exporting of ideas in the social and behavioral sciences by expanding the range of research topics as well as the scientific methods used to address them. They have the potential, for example, to address the plasticity of behavior in different environments and a variety of cognitive styles, and to increase the external validity of research. In summary, the research undertaken in international collaborations has the potential to inform theory, methods, education and training, policy, and practice. the processes constituting these collaborations, which can be seen as complex forms of joint activity, deserve attention along with their scientific results.

These collaborations also face a variety of obstacles. What are the challenges and impediments to undertaking international research collaborations? How have researchers negotiated these hurdles? What are the trade-offs encountered in international collaborations that should be acknowledged and that can be managed? How can these difficulties serve as learning opportunities? What steps could be taken to facilitate more frequent and more fruitful international research collaborations?

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