The role of intermediary organizations and knowledge communities in bridging barriers
Mark A. Shafer, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Norman, OK
Does a cultural divide separate scientists from the broader community in which they live? This concept, proposed by C.P. Snow in 1964, has driven studies and reform movements within the scientific community for more than two decades. Calls to make science more relevant and to bridge barriers have been made. The study described here addresses this cultural divide in the context of drought policy. Its goal is to examine whether such a cultural divide exists and if so, what mechanisms facilitate interaction across this divide.
The study was conducted between the summer of 2004 and spring of 2005. More than fifty individuals, representing both the scientific and state-level policy communities, were interviewed. Questions focused upon how scientists conducted and communicated their research, and information sources upon which policy-makers draw for advice on creating state drought plans. The study used a communications model, consisting of a producer (scientists), a message, and a receptor (policy-makers). The two cultures barrier did not seem to be a significant factor in this process. While little direct communication between scientists and top policy-makers was found, routine communication at lower levels of state organizations assured an effective flow of information into the policy planning process. Drought and climate information was communicated effectively to the policy community and utilized appropriately in creating or updating state-level drought plans.
An additional component, intermediary organizations that help to integrate and reformat information, is included. Findings suggest that these intermediary organizations are a key component in facilitating interaction between the two communities. Scientists, intermediary organizations, and technical staff from state agencies operate together in knowledge communities, in which information is shared for development of state policy.
Extended Abstract (192K)
Session 1, Policy Research in the Earth System Sciences
Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 8:30 AM-5:30 PM, A307
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