German forest management stakeholders at the science-society interface: Their views on problem definition, knowledge production and research utilization

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Facing ever more pressing global environmental problems, applied sciences like forest research are expected to benefit society beyond the mere production of new knowledge. However, newly gained scientific knowledge is often not brought into practical application. While scholarly conceptualizations on how to design the science-society interface accordingly have been widely discussed in academia, little attention has been paid to the stakeholders’ views thereof. Hence, this paper systematically compares the core assumptions of "normal science“, political use of scientific knowledge and transdisciplinary research with statements from interviews with 21 forest management stakeholders about their experiences and views on knowledge production and exchange in German forest research along the lines of problem definition, knowledge production and research utilization. Our analysis finds that the assumptions of the conceptualization of political use of scientific knowledge have the most support through aligning stakeholder statements from the interviews, as stakeholders opt for a clear separation of science and practice in the phase of knowledge production. Furthermore, interviewees raised concerns about biased knowledge and strategic knowledge use in other actors on the one hand, while at the same time describing their own opportunistic use of knowledge. Fewer stakeholder statements aligned with the assumptions of transdisciplinary research, highlighting exchanges with other actor groups and mutual learning. But one key aspect of transdisciplinary research, the involvement of stakeholders in the problem definition, found a strong correspondence in the interviewees’ statements. Our explorative but systematic results demonstrate that no scholarly conceptualization is a panacea to maximize the effectiveness of the science-society interface. Rather, it illustrates how the clarification of scholarly and stakeholder conceptualizations can deliver levers to shape a more productive science-society interface in forest research.

ZeitschriftForest Policy and Economics
Anzahl der Seiten10
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.02.2020