Process ownership in science–practice collaborations: the special role of transdisciplinary processes in sustainable transitioning
The complexity and importance of environmental, societal, and other challenges require new forms of science and practice collaboration.
We first describe the complementarity of method-driven, theory-based, and (to the extent possible) validated scientific knowledge in contrast to real-world, action-based, and contextualized experimental knowledge.
We argue that a thorough integration of these two modes of knowing is necessary for developing ground-breaking innovations and transitions for sustainable development. To reorganize types of science–practice collaborations, we extend Stokes’s Pasteur’s quadrant with its dimensions for the relevance of (i) (generalized) fundamental knowledge and (ii) applications when introducing (iii) process ownership, i.e., who controls the science–practice collaboration process.
Process ownership is a kind of umbrella variable which comprises leadership (with the inflexion point of equal footing or co-leadership) and mutuality (this is needed for knowledge integration and developing socially robust orientations) which are unique selling points of transdisciplinarity. The extreme positions of process ownership are applied research (science takes control) and consulting (practice takes process ownership). Ideal transdisciplinary processes include authentic co-definition, co-representation, co-design, and co-leadership of science and practice.
We discuss and grade fifteen approaches on science–practice collaboration along the process ownership scale and reflect on the challenges to make transdisciplinarity real.
R. W. Scholz, G. Steiner, Process ownership in science–practice collaborations: the special role of transdisciplinary processes in sustainable transitioning, Sustainability Science (2023) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-023-01291-7.