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Connecting knowledge with action through coproductive capacities: adaptive governance and connectivity conservation

Carina A Wyborn, College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06510-200111

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Abstract

Effective adaptive governance will emerge from strong relationships between science, governance, and practice. However, these relationships receive scant critical attention among adaptive governance scholarship. To address this lacuna, Jasanoff’s “idiom of coproduction” provides a lens to view the dialectical relationships between science and society. This view sees science and governance as coevolving through iterative relationships between the material, cognitive, social, and normative dimensions of a problem. This coevolution is precisely the aspiration of adaptive governance; however, the abstract notion of coproduction must be grounded to provide practical guidance for groups aspiring to “govern adaptively.” I have drawn on three concepts, namely coproduction, bridging/boundary organizations, and adaptive capacity, to present a conceptual framework of “coproductive capacities.” Coproductive capacities are the material, cognitive, social, and normative capacities that enable groups of actors to connect knowledge with action in a cross-scale governance context. This framework was applied to two cases of connectivity conservation. Inspired by the science of conservation biology, connectivity conservation promotes collaborative, cross-scale governance to conserve biodiversity at a landscape scale. This tight coupling of science and governance in a cross-scale context makes connectivity conservation a classic case of both coproduction and adaptive governance. However, the inability of the initiatives in the cases examined to turn their visions into action highlights a critical absence of key capacities. In particular, challenges faced in connecting knowledge with action at various scales points to the importance of building relationships between actors across scales. The structures and mechanisms of governance have dominated adaptive governance scholarship, yet coproductive capacity and adaptive governance emerge from the relationships between actors seeking to connect knowledge with action. Building capacity to negotiate these relationships is a more fruitful focus for adaptive governance than design principles and diagnostics.

Key words

adaptive capacity; adaptive governance; boundary organizations; bridging organizations; connectivity conservation; coproduction; coproductive capacities

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087