How context affects transdisciplinary research: insights from Asia, Africa and Latin America

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


  • Flurina Schneider
  • Onintsoa Ravaka Andriamihaja
  • R. Ntsiva N. Andriatsitohaina
  • Aung Myin Tun
  • Kiteme Boniface
  • Johanna Jacobi
  • Enrico Celio
  • Clara Léonie Diebold
  • Laby Patrick
  • Phokham Latthachack
  • Jorge Claudio Llopis
  • Lara Lundsgaard-Hansen
  • Peter Messerli
  • Stellah Mukhovi
  • Nwenwe Tun
  • Zo Hasina Rabemananjara
  • Bruno Salomon Ramamonjisoa
  • Sithong Thongmanivong
  • Thoumthone Vongvisouk
  • Daovorn Thongphanh
  • Win Myint
  • Julie Gwendolin Zaehringer

Transdisciplinary research (TDR) has been developed to generate knowledge that effectively fosters the capabilities of various societal actors to realize sustainability transformations. The development of TDR theories, principles, and methods has been largely governed by researchers from the global North and has reflected their contextual conditions. To enable more context-sensitive TDR framing, we sought to identify which contextual characteristics affect the design and implementation of TDR in six case studies in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, and what this means for TDR as a scientific approach. To this end, we distinguished four TDR process elements and identified several associated context dimensions that appeared to influence them. Our analysis showed that contextual characteristics prevalent in many Southern research sites—such as highly volatile socio-political situations and relatively weak support infrastructure—can make TDR a challenging endeavour. However, we also observed a high degree of variation in the contextual characteristics of our sites in the global South, including regarding group deliberation, research freedom, and dominant perceptions of the appropriate relationship between science, society, and policy. We argue that TDR in these contexts requires pragmatic adaptations as well as more fundamental reflection on underlying epistemological concepts around what it means to conduct “good science”, as certain contextual characteristics may influence core epistemological values of TDR.

ZeitschriftSustainability Science
Seiten (von - bis)2331-2345
Anzahl der Seiten15
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.11.2022

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the support of the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d programme), funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) (Grant no. 152167). JCL was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation under grant P2BEP2_191790. We wish to thank all the participants who contributed to our study, including local authorities, village leaders, smallholders, companies, and NGO/CSO representatives. We also wish to thank Stefanie Burkhart for research assistance and Anu Lannen for editing.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).