KMbeing

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

Tag Archives: evidence-based

Knowledge Mobilization Is About PEOPLE

people

Knowledge Mobilization is about PEOPLE – the push of research; the use of evidence-based research; the outreach to other multiple communities; the pull of knowledge from these other communities; the linking of multiple knowledge sources (often with the use of knowledge brokers); and the exchange of knowledge in various forms (formal journal publications, social and other media, research forums, in academic environments, and in informal conversations)

  • PUSH

  • EVIDENCE

  • OUTREACH

  • PULL

  • LINKING

  • EXCHANGE

Brokering The Role Of The Knowledge Broker

closing the loop

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about why it’s still a problem for knowledge brokers to be seen as credible to some senior scientists in many research/knowledge institutions, and how to overcome this barrier. My colleague mentioned that some senior scientists think the value of their research can stand on its own without any help from knowledge brokers, and often criticize the value of knowledge broker positions in the organization in the first place.

Knowledge Mobilization is about putting knowledge into active service for social benefit – and knowledge brokers have an important role in connecting various knowledge stakeholders together from multi-directional influences of producer-push (researcher), user-pull (research-user), knowledge exchange (anyone), and the co-production of knowledge (anyone). The bottom line is that it’s always about people sharing knowledge to make the world a better place.

My colleague mentioned that knowledge brokers were not being taken seriously by some researchers because of a feeling of a lack of credibility. There are certain researchers who somehow feel that the importance of their research cannot be fully “trusted” in the supposed “inexperienced” hands of “unskilled” knowledge brokers. As such, these misguided researchers would rather go it alone and not make use of intermediaries to disseminate or further enhance their knowledge.

My colleague and I discussed that in such cases there is a need for other credible scientists or stakeholders to champion the cause of these knowledge brokers.  Such champions can assist in bringing recognition to the valuable role of the knowledge broker, and ignite a passion for knowledge mobilization/knowledge exchange. In such cases the very role of the knowledge broker comes into play by connecting with these champions and acting upon these connections by engaging the champions in discussion about the organization’s current knowledge exchange challenges. This means constructing arguments for the champions to convince the skeptical researchers of the value of knowledge brokers.

If the skeptical researchers still see no value – and wish to go it alone – then the knowledge brokers need to be prepared to recognize such limitations and cut their losses while continuing to ignite awareness with other key decision-makers within the organization. Perhaps in this more indirect manner, skeptical researchers may eventually come around to recognizing the value of knowledge brokers for the institution – but never hold your breath.

barriers

The knowledge broker role itself is about finding ways to champion the current knowledge of the organization, continuing to inform institutional knowledge, and broker internal and external knowledge value among stakeholders on an ongoing basis. Knowledge brokers need to recognize that there may be barriers inherent in the organization that cannot be directly dealt with. Dealing with such barriers indirectly may mean ignoring them temporarily (or completely) while attempting to find other researchers or sources for knowledge exchange.

If knowledge brokers are not prepared to do this then you are not prepared to remain relevant to the organization. Knowledge brokering will continue to be a function that is misunderstood, and not seen as credible.

Quite frankly, it comes down to how you broker being a knowledge broker – whether you’re talking about organizational need, the benefits to the individuals who engage with the knowledge systems you create or the connections you’re developing for knowledge exchange. It comes down to how you ‘sell’ the role of the knowledge broker, your contribution and added value to the organization – as well as the people who fall within its influence.

David Phipps

As David Phipps points out, and we include in our co-authored field note, the role of the knowledge broker and knowledge mobilization is not new. Phipps references both Aristotle and the PARiHS framework  to summarize three key concepts for a knowledge broker to think about when developing their role in any institution. (I have added my own thoughts in brackets to further expand the concepts).

evidence = logos (providing the logic or evidence)

facilitation = ethos (establishing credibility for facilitation)

context = pathos (connecting to the stakeholder’s emotional or value context)

These key concepts can be used as a framework to develop greater understanding to broker a knowledge broker role within the organization by providing the logic behind having knowledge brokers.

Evidence: Do you have evidence to substantiate the role of knowledge brokers within your organization? What is the logic of having knowledge brokers within your organization?

Credibility: How credible are the knowledge brokers in your organization? Can your knowledge brokers speak the ‘language’ of the organization? Do the knowledge brokers in your organization have champions to assist them with their roles and help them establish credibility? Do the knowledge brokers understand the individuals within the organization and recognize those that may be barriers or facilitators?

Context: Can the knowledge brokers connect to the various emotional contexts within the organizational system to identify barriers (and possibly risks to the organization)? Can the knowledge brokers speak to the values of the individuals within the organization as well as to the greater values of the organization as a whole? Does the knowledge broker have the ability to know how to work around barriers while continuing to align with the knowledge objectives of the organization?

KTECop

The Knowledge Translation & Exchange Community of Practice (KTECop) often refers to the role of the knowledge broker as “closing the loop” as an apt description. If knowledge brokers are going to continue to deal with problems of credibility and criticism of their value, they must start with a framework that provides greater understanding to broker the role of the knowledge broker. If not, knowledge brokers must be prepared to deal with people who still don’t understand their role, what they can do, and the value they can bring – never being able to close the loop or overcome the barriers they face.

Sharing Knowledge: Not The Way We Plan

spare change

Sharing knowledge does not always have to turn out the way we plan. Sharing knowledge for social benefit is about creating a better life on this earth that is an opportunity awaiting all of us. We must let go of old fears and insecurities that our knowledge somehow isn’t “good enough” to create change for good in this world, and make way for confidence that the knowledge each one of us has can contribute towards social benefit to make a difference on this planet.

This thought makes me stop and think deeply everyday. Just how often do we easily dismiss someone else’s knowledge that we consider not “good enough” in attempts to create “expert” or “evidence-based” knowledge?  Don’t get me wrong; evidence-based knowledge is extremely important to bring about positive change – especially when our government policymakers depend on hearing this “evidence” to make their decisions for social improvement. But we mustn’t overlook where this evidence can come from.

Our human experience is about sharing our existence on this planet together. If my daily focus is about only seeking out the “experts” or “evidence” in my little corner of this world, then I’ll miss opportunities to learn from other people, cultures, and ways of life that may unexpectedly teach me through their knowledge about how to make this world a better place. We must not forget that “experts” and “evidence” are often context-specific.

It’s interesting that most of us plan our daily lives to follow socially acceptable and professional definitions of knowledge “sources” in our own little corners of the world, as we attempt each day to make better lives for ourselves. And what about those unexpected sources of knowledge that we are often afraid to connect with – both beyond our own communities and also within our own little corners of the world?

The times in my own life when I have learned some of the most valuable knowledge that has made me a better person isn’t from my university degree or from my professional colleagues. Some of the most valuable knowledge in my life has come from connecting with and listening to the knowledge of the poor, the homeless, the “un-educated” or the “non-expert” voices that I’ve come in contact with throughout this world.  

Two examples that come to mind are speaking with a guy who hands out the free daily newspaper, and connecting with a woman who sits on a street-corner everyday begging for money:

Trevor, who hands out the newspapers everyday in sunshine, rain and cold, reminds me that each life has a story and we all have a voice.  When I stopped one day to ask how his day was going, Trevor (rather startled the first time) thanked me and said how often people just walk right by him and ignore him.  Now, whenever I pass by Trevor on my way to work, we strike up a short conversation, and I have new opportunities to connect myself to someone else’s knowledge.

Jing, an elderly woman who sits on the street corner waiting for spare change, reminds me that there are still social problems that need to be addressed – and that not all people begging for change are doing so to feed a drug habit or drinking problem. Jing’s story is an attempt to make a better life in a new country, and the failed attempt to do so. Jing doesn’t say much, as her English is limited, but she appreciates someone knowing her real story of why she sits on the corner every day having to beg for money.

I’ve often learned more about myself and how to make this world a better place by listening to these voices than to what the “experts” or “evidence” often have to say.

Each day, I try to keep myself open to this type of knowledge, and the fact that the road of life that I travel on has plenty of unplanned twists and turns and forks in the road that are learning opportunities from some of the least “expert” people I meet. These moments are knowledge opportunities for social benefit when – just for a moment – I let go of my preconceived ideas of “expert” or “evidence-based” knowledge, and listen to sources of knowledge that are good enough to listen to and learn from – to contribute to making the world a better place.

Knowledge Mobilization & Implementation Science – A Definition

Implementation Science

Implementation Science is about using a specific set of purposeful activities at the practice, program, and system level (a group of related components) designed to put into place a program or intervention of known dimensions for social benefit. It’s the science of bringing evidence-based research and knowledge exchange through knowledge mobilization (KMb) into practice to improve society – and ultimately make the world a better place.

Whose Knowledge Is It Anyway?

I was recently at a Knowledge Transfer & Exchange Community of Practice (KTE CoP) seminar in Toronto where a University of Sheffield scholar, Kate Pahl (above photo) was presenting a research project about a wide-range of meanings that a community park space in the U.K. has for different people in the park.  Pahl was co-investigator on a project called SPARKS: Urban green-space as a focus for connecting communities and research funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Connected Communities programme which brought together anthropology, geography, linguistics, contemporary science and environment science to look at the role of public parks in language development.

Pahl’s KTE CoP seminar presentation showcased this university-community research collaboration project with an interview-style video (the video can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/7m27DmiBHFQ) showing the usage and values that such a park space have, and the language used to describe the park by both academics and community participants.  (Pahl has also been a guest blogger writing about the value of stories and storytelling as spaces of unknowing and as works of art). The title of the KTE CoP presentation was “whose research is it anyway?” – illustrating the importance of understanding and valuing research (and knowledge) from within both the university and community sectors.

Interestingly, Pahl apologized several times to the mostly health-sciences audience for her somewhat “artsy” ethnographic research project after being questioned by several KTE CoP academics attempting to understand the significance, direction, scientific methodology and impact of the research project. Instead of recognizing the broader value and application of the project for community research participation and knowledge sharing – along with such diverse areas of academic research, including Urban Studies, Water Management, Social Work, Sociology, Linguistics, History, Recreation, Arts & Entertainment, to name a few- the seemingly narrowly-focused health-sciences group failed to look beyond their academic research silos to appreciate the broader fields of study and the more important university-community collaboration possibilities of knowledge transfer and exchange.

This event got me thinking about the idea of “evidence-based” thinking and ideas of “truth” in this world. There are many different people on this planet who think they have “the truth” or ultimate knowledge of life. Because they think that their knowledge is “the true” knowledge they’re always telling others what’s “right” and “wrong” – never being open to the knowledge of others, or learning how to share knowledge to create new knowledge for social benefit and ultimately make the world a better place. Alas, this seems to be the case even among academics purporting to be part of a community of practice open to knowledge transfer & exchange.

No one knows everything – there are many truths and many diverse paths in this life. Some of us do know more information than others, and some of us recognize the importance of evidence-based thinking. But information is not knowledge, and evidence-based thinking depends on circumstances and preferences that still remain subject to input from personal, political, philosophical, ethical, economic, and esthetic values“Best” evidence thinking is now starting to shift into “best” practice thinking as we recognize that “evidence” that may work in one setting may not necessarily work in another.

“Truth” and Knowledge are two concepts that have less to do with information and “best” “evidence”, and much more to do with openness to other human beings, awareness of the diversity of life and circumstances on this planet, and compassion and empathy for others to make this earth better for everyone.

  

Sandra Nutley and colleagues, in their book Using Evidence, point out the diversity of research approaches and uses stating that “research use enhancement strategies that encourage a greater variety of voices in opportunities for dialoge have the potential to give research a substantial, sustained, and sometimes critical, role in debates about public services” and that “research goes much broader than the preoccupation with the ‘what works?’ type of instrumental knowledge central to the ‘evidence-based everything’ agenda.” (Click here for more on the difference between instrumental knowledge and conceptual knowledge).

In my experience, I’ve learned that all people have knowledge to share, and the idea of “truth” is realizing we can never know any sort of absolute “truth” because knowledge is something that is always changing and always evolving as we combine our knowledge with others throughout our human history and create new knowledge each day with each person in our lives – and throughout this planet.

The greatest knowledge we can reach is that of knowing and understanding we all have knowledge to share – whether we’re academics or everyday people in community. It’s how we find a common ground to share and collaborate with this knowledge that is important.

Knowledge is not about judging other people based on our own knowledge of life and living – or judging other people based on their knowledge of life and living.  Knowledge is about being open to each others knowledge (no matter how limited or extensive) to combine our knowledge – not for ridicule or harm – but for social benefit. This is how we can make a difference on this planet. This is what Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) is all about.

At a more formal or institutional level, KMb is a collaborative process of exchanging knowledge among academics and non-academics to inform decisions about public policy and professional practice.  At this level, KMb can enhance social innovation and develop long-term solutions to social, environmental, economic and cultural challenges – including many of the so-called wicked problems that continue to hold back our humanity.

At a more informal or personal level, KMb is also a collaborative process of exchanging knowledge – with every person we meet – to inform our personal decisions about “right” and “wrong” with the many truths that exist on this planet. At this level, KMb can enhance our social interactions and develop long-term solutions to the problems that stop us from connecting and finding common ground as human beings.

There’s a great difference between accepting others for who they are and judging them based on our own limited ideas of “right” and “wrong” and “evidence” – there’s a great difference between the many truths that exist on this planet and our own interpretation of “evidence” and “the truth”.