KMbeing

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Monthly Archives: November 2013

Knowledge Brokers – A Solution For Social Benefit

kmb-model-final

Thankfully, there are many Social Science and Humanities researchers today who imagine new possibilities to understand and improve social issues – ultimately it’s hoped to overcome some of the world’s wicked problems.

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences states the world needs “agile and well-rounded thinkers who can assess and adapt to change, analyze trends, communicate effectively, and consider the past to better prepare for the future.” These are people who think about social issues and benefits that go far beyond currently available resources, approaches and sectors.  Such researchers imagine new methods through knowledge mobilization (KMb) that produce evidence-informed results to create social benefit and change more holistically – even beyond the original research itself.

Sadly there are other researchers still stuck in the past using the same archaic research techniques that have worked for them for decades without any use or regard for knowledge mobilization (KMb). These “comfortable” researchers simply churn out results with the same limiting research methodologies – paper after paper, conference after conference. Similarly there are research institutions which churn out unengaged policy after unengaged policy.  Both institutions and researchers within them think this is sufficient enough for “social benefit and change” in today’s research world without any regard for the broader benefit to the world at large beyond their own limiting research circles.

For researchers adopting KMb approaches their research is informed by a wider range of multi-directional knowledge exchange. These KMb Social Science and Humanities researchers scale and scope knowledge as broadly and efficiently as one possibly can to include others in their research methods and knowledge translation – not just “professionals or colleagues”.

That’s where knowledge brokers come into the research process.  They bring in knowledge of networks. They bring in connections. They bring in understanding of new technologies for knowledge translation and exchange. They make sure that research ideas can be widely disseminated, evidence-informed from a variety of stakeholders, and then made openly available to society in the most effective manner in ways that bring wider benefit not just in the researcher’s realm but across sectors. Social Science and Humanities research is inherently broad in its social and human elements, stemming from many different contexts to help us understand our common social context of humanity.

Isn’t that the point of Social Science and Humanities research in the first place? To help us understand social issues in our own context and in other contexts, comparing and contrasting to somehow find solutions that can create the greatest research impact locally and ultimately globally?

There are some who still think it “idealistic” for researchers to make use of knowledge brokers as recently pointed out in a compelling blog. The blog suggests the possibility of cutting out knowledge brokers as a “cumbersome link to the chain of knowledge translation” by asking: “What if several researchers and decision makers met regularly to monitor and discuss ways of managing access to knowledge, to solve practical problems?”

What if I want to get from point A to point B without a map, a directional or transportation device or other resources to do so? Would simply wishing this to happen without the appropriate tools or resources make it happen? What about some of the obstacles that I might encounter along the way from point A to point B that might require new ways, inputs and detours to eventually get me to my destination?

Knowledge translation isn’t just linear A to B (researcher to decision maker).  This appears even more idealistic.  Knowledge brokerage is professional, intermediary support to guide as a map, tool or resource required to help traverse the structural issues around professional boundaries and organizational norms and environments of researchers, policy-makers and many other stakeholders. Cutting the knowledge broker link in the chain only destroys the strength of the chain and leaves incomplete loops in the intersecting circles.

One of the better definitions of a knowledge broker is from The in-between world of knowledge brokering by John Lomas that I mentioned in an earlier blog about the history of KMb. Knowledge brokers “link decision makers with researchers, facilitating their interaction so that they are able to better understand each other’s goals and professional cultures, influence each other’s work, forge new partnerships, and promote the use of research-based evidence in decision-making.” The irony of this often-quoted and important definition from Lomas is that this article – and many of the articles that continue to quote this definition – are still behind pay-walls and accessible only to “professionals” instead of being open-access. The 2007 article was forward thinking for researchers then and now about knowledge brokerage and KMb – yet it’s still stuck in the past using an old form of knowledge “translation” behind a research repository.

Together researchers and knowledge brokers create knowledge for social benefit with a variety of partners and stakeholders and create change that didn’t exist before. Together researchers and knowledge brokers broaden the research process that differs from research being done in the past.

However, as with all things, there are times when great research remains locked away on the shelf as policy makers decide which resources society “needs” to be allocated for the next big political game.  As illustrated in the model above, this is when governmental, corporate, academic and community leaders need to intersect and work together to help research organizations and society reorient themselves to recognize that what had been great research methodologies and translation/dissemination techniques for the last 20 or 30 years are no longer as effective for social benefit as they used to be.  Knowledge brokers are an important part of the solution for social benefit if researchers – especially Social Science and Humanities researchers – sincerely want to make the world a better place.

Making Someone Else’s Life Better By Sharing Your Knowledge

make a difference

How do you make someone else’s life a little bit better by sharing knowledge and being open to the knowledge of others?

How you exchange your knowledge is your message to the world. Make sure it’s for social benefit and not harm.  Your knowledge becomes better when you make someone else’s life better by sharing knowledge and being open to the knowledge of others.

Your Quiet Place To Appreciate Your Knowledge Contribution

city blur

Where is your quiet place where you can stop the world for a minute and appreciate your own place in it – appreciate your knowledge contribution to it? All knowledge shared for social benefit makes the world a better place. Sometimes we need to step back into a quiet place to see our own knowledge contributions to this noisy planet.

Knowledge Exchange For Power or Benefit

power struggle

Is there a power struggle in your knowledge exchange with others or do you work cooperatively with other people to share knowledge for improvement for everyone? Using knowledge exchange for power is limiting. Using knowledge exchange for social benefit is limitless.

How Do You Compare Your Knowledge?

orange and apple

How do you compare your personal experiences and knowledge with the personal experiences and knowledge of others? Do you think your personal experiences and knowledge have less “value” than others? All personal experience and knowledge have value if shared for social benefit to make the world a better place.

Peace Of Mind In Your Knowledge

peace of mind

What in your knowledge exchange with others brings you peace of mind?  Knowledge that is exchanged freely and openly is not disturbed by things you cannot control or things that others say that you do not agree with. Knowledge Mobilization is about knowledge exchanged freely and openly to create new knowledge together for social benefit.

Climbing Out Of The Pit Of “Stupidity”

pit

Sometimes being in the pit of feeling “stupid” and “unintelligent” makes it difficult to climb out and see that your knowledge and intelligence – no matter how “limited” it may seem – can contribute to making the world a better place.

Expectations vs Reality Of Knowledge

Expectations

Do your expectations of your knowledge match up to the reality of how your knowledge can contribute to a better world?

No Knowledge Experts For Social Benefit

no experts

We all have knowledge to share to make the world a better place – there are no experts.  How are you exchanging knowledge for social benefit?

Values Of Knowledge Exchange

exchange

What are the values that influence your knowledge exchange?