The knowledge practice paradox

By Robert Duiveman

Robert Duiveman (biography)

Both researchers and politicians frequently claim that the interactions between science and public policy need reform and improvement: an agenda actualized by people all over the world by engaging in new collaborative knowledge practices. But a closer relationship doesn’t necessarily equal a better one; it depends on the design of the collaboration as well as the choices made along the way.

Given the societal and scientific importance attached to new knowledge practices, there is a striking lack of insight into what is actually done within them. There seems to be what I label a knowledge practice paradox. In order to ensure that an experimental collaborative knowledge practice gets its results accepted and implemented ‘in real world circumstances’ it needs to be presented as scientifically sound, politically adroit and deliberatively legitimized.

Yet – as those involved know – research methods and design alone are usually insufficient to get there. It’s the practical wisdom (phronèsis) applied along the way that is key to real success.

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