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Toward successful joint knowledge production for climate change adaptation: lessons from six regional projects in the Netherlands

Dries Hegger, Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University
Carel Dieperink, Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University


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In the domain of climate change adaptation, joint knowledge production (JKP) through intensive cooperation between scientists, policy-makers, and other actors is often proposed as a means to reconcile supply and demand for knowledge. Regional adaptation projects in the Netherlands form prominent examples of this. However, there is a lack of systematic empirical studies on how JKP can be done successfully. Here, we take the next step toward generating design principles for JKP. We do so by carrying out a comparative analysis of six Dutch adaptation projects using a previously developed assessment framework. Project documents were studied, and 30 semi-structured interviews were held with researchers, policy-makers, and financiers in the projects. Based on project comparisons, we derive and elaborate on two design principles for JKP. First, the most successful projects managed to create what we term a protected space for knowledge development while establishing connections with ongoing policy processes. Successful JKP seems to be more likely in cases in which actors make a conscious decision for the institutional location of the project on the research–policy nexus, whereby the coordinating entity has some characteristics of a boundary organization. Second, specific resources, including facilities, boundary objects, and specific competencies increase the chance for success.

Key words

comparative case study analysis; constructivist approach; design principles; environmental governance; joint knowledge production; knowledge production for sustainable development; regional climate change adaptation; The Netherlands; typology

Copyright © 2014 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