Promising practices for dealing with complexity in research for development

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


  • Carmenza Robledo Abad
  • Sabin Bieri
  • René Eschen
  • Sandra Fuerst
  • Johanna Jacobi
  • Elizabeth Jiménez
  • Aymara Llanque Zonta
  • Meleesa Naughton
  • Urs Schaffner
  • Mirko S. Winkler
  • Manuel Flury

The need to deal with complexity is getting increasingly attention in research for development projects implemented through transboundary research partnerships between organisations from the Global North and the Global South. However, less is known about aspects beyond the systems under study that still affect complexity in the research project. We conducted an experience capitalization of five transboundary research partnerships undertaking research in 14 countries in the Global South. We found that the combination of multiple contexts, the cultural and disciplinary diversity of the transboundary research partnerships, and the set of rules and proceedings from the funding mechanism affect the levels of complexity. We further identified that a transdisciplinary approach and several related practices, like intercultural communication or integrative partnerships, are promising ways of dealing with complexity. Current structures in research for development need to improve in order to fully use the potential of transdisciplinarity for sustainability transformation.

ZeitschriftGAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society
Seiten (von - bis)115-124
Anzahl der Seiten10
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 20.05.2023

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
Experience capitalization is a method of reviewing experiences – positive or negative –, to co-produce knowledge that emerges from practice (experience) and can be used for future activities (Bächler et al. 2005). It includes four steps: reflexion of own experiences, dialogue with peers about similarities and differences in the reflexion step, analysis of preliminary results from the dialogue and validation of these results. The process is conducted by an external facilitator and each step is documented by a third party (CTA 2019). We conducted an experience capitalization with five R4D projects implemented by transboundary research partnerships funded by the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues on Development (box 1). Four projects lasted for six years (two phases of three years each), while one project lasted only three years. All

Funding Information:
Funding: The Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (Swiss r4d) funded all case studies and provided meaningful funding for the experience capitalization. Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests. Author contribution: CRA, MF: involved with initial research design; CRA, SB, SF, RE, JJ, MW, EJ, ALZ, US, MN, MF: data collection and analysis; CRA, RE, JJ, MW, EJ, ALZ, US, MF: manuscript drafting; JJ, MW, MF: collaborating to the final manuscript; MN: language check; CRA: writing the final manuscript, corresponding author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors; licensee oekom. This Open Access article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY).