Team structures

Understand different team structures for improving knowledge exchange between scientists and their audience.

Effective environmental management depends on an exchange of ideas and evidence between scientists and their audience to support decision making. Unfortunately, knowledge exchange proves elusive for many projects.

One way to overcome these barriers is through structuring project teams in ways that encourage knowledge exchange.

The following example, drawn from Chris Cvitanovic’s blog, shows different arrangements using the example of scientists and decision makers, but the different arrangements are applicable for any target audience.

When scientists work completely independently from decision-makers, knowledge exchange is typically confined to reviews and reports.

An alternative approach is to adopt knowledge co-production methods where decision-makers actively participate in scientific research programs from the onset. Through co-producing the research, knowledge exchange often happens organically.

Sometimes scientists embed decision-makers inside their research teams.

This provides the decision-maker a first-hand view of the research process and helps ensure the needs they represent are well understood.

Sometimes scientist are embedded in the decision-makers organisation (e.g. a secondment).

This provides the scientist with insight into the needs of the decision-maker and helps ensure that the science is well communicated.

A project might designate one or more people within the research team as a knowledge broker. Brokers help ensure that the various parties understand one another and they arrive at the best possible outcome.

There are advantages to engaging an independent organisation to facilitate. This might be desirable when the stakeholder network is large and diverse.

More Information

Four strategies for improving knowledge exchange among scientists and decision-makers, Integration and implementation insights.

Cvitanovic, C., Hobday, A. J., van Kerkhoff, L., Wilson, S. K., Dobbs, K. and Marshall, N. A. (2015). Improving knowledge exchange among scientists and decision-makers to facilitate the adaptive governance of marine resources: A review of knowledge and research needs. Ocean and Coastal Management, 112: 25-35. (Open access).

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