Taboo triangles

By Charles M. Lines

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Charles M. Lines (biography)

Occasionally, asking your collaborators about other people and organisations to involve in the joint work may make you aware of ‘taboo triangles’. These occur when currently collaborating people or organisations feel uncomfortable with or even unable to countenance a certain person, group or organisation being invited into their existing relationships.

It is worth exploring the reasons for and stories behind these warning signs or taboos. Are they valid? Are they erected by traditions that have become unquestioned rules? Are they in reality a barrier which seeks to restrict access to some form of power, influence or sought after resource? Are they based upon assumptions and preconceptions rather than reality?

Above all, are they worth taking the risk of challenging or even ignoring?

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Material resources for transdisciplinary research

By Chris Riedy

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Chris Riedy (biography)

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’.

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Five principles for achieving impact

By Mark Reed

Mark Reed (biography)

What key actions can help research have impact? Interviews with 32 researchers and stakeholders across 13 environmental management research projects lead to the five principles and key issues described below (Reed et al., 2014).

1. Design:

   • Understand what everyone wants. This can help in managing expectations of different stakeholders and project members and identifying potential issues/problems early on.
   • Understand the context of the project. Use local characteristics, traditions, norms and past experiences as a starting point for planning the project.
   • Take your time. Knowledge exchange is time consuming if done properly.
   • Design your knowledge exchange activities carefully. Spend time researching the context, the stakeholders, and possible approaches. Design for flexibility, get feedback, and adapt your plans to suit changing circumstances.

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Co-Production: It’s all about relationships

By Kirsten Kainz

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Kirsten Kainz (biography)

Relationships are the underpinnings of the co-production process. The quality of knowledge gained and the solutions produced are a function of the quality of relationships among the participants.

In a recent paper, Lorrae van Kerkhoff and Louis Lebel (2015) also made strong claims about the relevance, salience, and potential impacts of relationships in the co-production of science and governance needed for sustainable improvements responding to global environmental change.

One important clarification raised by van Kerkhoff and Lebel (2015) is that relationships exist not only among individuals, but also among institutions.  These relationships among individuals and institutions exist in historical contexts that are interpreted differently by diverse members.  Individual and institutional interpretations affect action and meaning-making in co-production settings.

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