What processes are involved when researchers and local actors co-design context-specific intervention strategies? This ‘how to’ knowledge is outlined in the three principles described below. Local actors can include non-governmental organisations, local leaders, community groups and individual activists.
Principle 1. Explore existing and envisioned initiatives fostering change towards the desired future
What is co-innovation and how can it be applied in practice in a research project?
Co-innovation is the process of jointly developing new or different solutions to a complex problem through multi-participant research processes – and keeping these processes alive throughout the research.
Our experience has been applying co-innovation as a research approach to address complex problems in an agricultural context, however, the principles apply well beyond agriculture. Co-innovation is most suited to hard-to-solve technical, social, cultural and economic challenges. Such challenges have no obvious cause and effect relationships, as well as many different players with a stake in the research problem and solution. These include policy makers, industry, community members, first nations representatives and others who are involved in the research as partners and stakeholders.
By Franziska Stelzer, Uwe Schneidewind, Karoline Augenstein and Matthias Wanner
What are real-world laboratories? How can we best grasp their transformative potential and their relationship to transdisciplinary projects and processes? Real-world laboratories are about more than knowledge integration and temporary interventions. They establish spaces for transformation and reflexive learning and are therefore best thought of as large-scale research infrastructure. How can we best get a handle on the structural dimensions of real-word laboratories?
What are real-world laboratories?
Real-world laboratories are a targeted set-up of a research “infrastructure“ or a “space“ in which scientific actors and actors from civil society cooperate in the joint production of knowledge in order to support a more sustainable development of society.
Although such a laboratory establishes a structure, most discussions about real-world laboratories focus on processes of co-design, co-production and co-evaluation of knowledge, as shown in the figure below. Surprisingly, the structural dimension has received little attention in the growing field of literature.
Overcoming structure as the blind spot
We want to raise awareness of the importance of the structural dimension of real-world laboratories, including physical infrastructure as well as interpretative schemes or social norms, as also shown in the figure below. A real-world laboratory can be understood as a structure for nurturing niche development, or a space for experimentation that interacts (and aims at changing) structural conditions at the regime level.
Apart from this theoretical perspective, we want to add a concrete “infrastructural” perspective, as well as a reflexive note on the role of science and researchers. Giddens’ use of the term ‘structure’ helps to emphasize that scientific activity is always based on rules (eg., rules of proper research and use of methods in different disciplines) and resources (eg., funding, laboratories, libraries).
The two key challenges of real-world laboratories are that:
both scientists and civil society actors are involved in the process of knowledge production; and,
knowledge production takes place in real-world environments instead of scientific laboratories.
When we’re trying to improve the experience of health care, social care and other services users, is there a fast, rigorous way to include their perspectives that doesn’t involve repeatedly collecting new data from them and their families?
Measuring, understanding and improving people’s experience of services has become a priority. There is now an international focus (at least in the West) on person-centred care. The English National Health Service has led the way among health systems by introducing the first nationally mandated patient survey.
Despite the strong political and organisational focus on improving care, reports of unsatisfactory experience continue in even the best funded care systems.
Processes to support the uptake of research evidence call for each of the key stakeholders to consider the challenges faced by other key stakeholders in making good use of research evidence. When stakeholders have the opportunity to consider perspectives other than their own, they will generally have a broader understanding of the problem space, and, in turn a greater commitment to co-creating prototypes for improving research translation.
Let’s consider a real world example in New York City’s public child welfare system.
What materials are needed to support the conduct of transdisciplinary research?
Transdisciplinary research is a bundle of interwoven social practices taking different forms in different contexts. As highlighted in one prominent version of social practice theory (Shove et al., 2012: 14), social practice has three elements:
Materials – ‘including things, technologies, tangible physical entities, and the stuff of which objects are made’
Competences – ‘which encompasses skill, know-how and technique’
Meanings – ‘in which we include symbolic meanings, ideas and aspirations’.
Have you ever wanted a new way to engage with stakeholders that is more engaging, fun and effective? PARTICIPOLOGY is a set of open-access web resources and associated guidance that sets out to achieve these aims. It uses a board game format where players encounter questions and challenges as a dice throw dictates. The board, questions and rules of the game can be designed from scratch or existing templates can be adapted to the specific goals you have in mind. The game was designed to be used in participatory forums about land use options, but the principles can be more widely applied to all kinds of participatory processes.
There are five key findings from developing and using these resources.
The language of ‘co-processes’ is much in vogue in policy, practice and academic communities worldwide. In commerce, product design and politics, the power of the crowd has long been recognised, but can co-processes be harnessed for the public good? The answer, right now, appears to be ‘maybe’.
What are co-processes and what are they for?
The briefest survey of the literature on co-processes confirms there is substantial variation in how they are defined and what methods or techniques they include. A confusing multiplicity of related terms exists—co-construction, co-production, co-design, co-innovation, co-creation—all are in regular use, sometimes interchangeably, and often defined at an unhelpful level of abstraction (for more on this topic see the blog post by Allison Metz on Co-creation, co-design, co-production, co-construction: same or different?). Nevertheless, however we define co-processes, participatory methods, boundary-spanning and inclusivity to varying degrees are foundational principles that can be detected in most accounts. Beyond that, the stated purposes and proposed outcomes vary considerably.
A key topic across disciplines is the authentic engagement and participation of key stakeholders in developing and guiding innovations to solve problems. Complex systems consist of dense webs of relationships where individual stakeholders self-organize through interactions. Research demonstrates that successful uptake of innovations requires genuine and meaningful interaction among researchers, service providers, policy makers, consumers, and other key stakeholders. Implementation efforts must address the various needs of these stakeholders. However, these efforts are described differently across disciplines and contexts – co-design, co-production, co-creation, and co-construction.
Developing consensus on terminology and meanings will facilitate future research and application of “co” concepts.