Barriers in the science-policy-practice interface: Toward a knowledge-action-system in global environmental change research


This paper presents the results of a case study analysis from the knowledge domains of vulnerability and resilience. We analyzed 20 scientific assessments to provide empirical evidence for successes and failures in collaborative knowledge production, i.e., the joint creation of assessments reports by researchers and decision makers in policy and practice. It became clear that the latter typically use insufficiently the research-based knowledge available and researchers typically produce insufficiently knowledge that is directly usable. We found a number of functional, structural, and social factors inhibiting a joint problem identification and framing of knowledge producers and potential users: divergent objectives, needs, scope, and priorities; different institutional settings and standards, as well as differing cultural values, understanding, and mistrust. Combining understanding from multiple sources and providing mechanisms for linking solutions proposed by research with articulated needs and problems of practitioners would reduce the discrepancies in activities of different actors and result in more timely and context-appropriate solutions. In the concluding section we argue for a more locally embedded and socially contingent production of actionable knowledge and make suggestions about ways to enhance effectiveness of research-based knowledge.
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