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Making Sure you Solve the Right Problem

Kim Cartledge, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University
Claudia Dürrwächter, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University
Veronica Hernandez Jimenez, School of Agronomy, Polytechnic University of Madrid
Nick P. Winder, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University


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Macleod et al. have given us an admirable case study and argued that “… there is an urgent need to create stronger and more transparent, integrated, and adaptive linkages between opening-up and closing down mechanisms at the science–policy interface.” Two questions must be addressed: what sorts of managerial reform would be required to achieve this? and Is this likely to happen? A natural subsidiarity makes large institutions more inclined to “closing down” (specification) actions and smaller ones more inclined to open problems up. The method of boundary judgments developed in integrative research could be applied to the science–policy interface but there are political and sociological reasons why this is unlikely to happen. Receptiveness to opening up actions is a prerequisite of innovation. Innovations are suppressed in times of geopolitical and economic stress. The result is often an ill-structured, co-evolutionary dynamic in which the actions of one species or population reduce the fitness of another.

Key words

epiphany; innovation; integrative research; science–policy interface

Copyright © 2009 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087