Open Social Scholarship Annotated Bibliography/Knowledge Mobilization
The term “knowledge mobilization” refers to the dissemination of research output, as well as its uptake by groups other than the researcher or researchers who developed it. Authors in this category acknowledge the gap found between the amount of research produced and how much of this knowledge is actually implemented into practice. They offer a number of strategic knowledge mobilization steps to address this issue. These include measures such as developing optimal implementation strategies through planned action theories (Graham, Tetroe, and KT Theories Research Group 2007), strengthening the link between research, policy, and practice (Cooper and Levin 2010), and working through the various theoretical models of knowledge utilization (Landry, Amara, and Lamar 2001). Anderson and McLachlan advocate for knowledge mobilization as a practice that challenges the models of knowledge transfer that reign in academic environments and can manifest through a hierarchical transmission of knowledge from the top down (2015). This hierarchical structure is challenged by giving voice to typically marginalized groups (mostly those outside of academia) through establishing productive channels of communication (Anderson and McLachlan 2015). Other approaches implement fairly novel techniques, such as network analysis, in order to measure knowledge mobilization in community-based organizations—a technique that enables organizations to serve as a reliable voice for the various groups they represent (Gainforth et al. 2014). Notably, most knowledge mobilization strategies unfold in interdisciplinary realms where collaborative practices between different groups are the founding element of successful practices (Cooper and Levin 2010). Landry, Admary, and Lamri conduct research on how faculty members in Canadian universities promote the utilization of their research. Present theories on knowledge utilization generally fall into three categories: instrumental use (knowledge used for decision making and problem solving), conceptual use (knowledge that provides new ideas, theories, or hypothesis), and symbolic use (knowledge used for legitimizing views); however, the authors argue that these categories fail to take into account all the complexities of knowledge utilization, and therefore call for new theories for measuring this process (2001). The authors in this category acknowledge the value of implementing knowledge mobilization strategies, and delve into possibilities, challenges, and solutions based on concrete examples that employ both new and old theoretical frameworks.
Anderson, Colin R., and Stéphane M. McLachlan. 2015. “Transformative Research as Knowledge Mobilization: Transmedia, Bridges, and Layers.” Action Research 14 (3): 295 – 317. https://doi:.org/10.1177/1476750315616684.
- Anderson and Colin attempt to create a transformative research paradigm that champions knowledge mobilization over the knowledge transfer model where the scientific community occupies the elite central stage and transmits knowledge from the top down. Primarily, this is done by disrupting power relations and including typically marginalized agents, such as farmers and other community-based researchers, within the scientific conversation. The authors conduct a case study on the Participatory Action Research (PAR) program in the Canadian Prairies in order to highlight the processes involved. They suggest that shifting to knowledge mobilization is a messy but necessary step in order to achieve an inclusive, useful, and reflective scholarship and practice. The authors employ three major strategies in order to bring the academic and nonacademic actors involved in the project closer together. The first is layering, which involves determining the right language, and the level of detail and complexity in a way that would be accessible to all parties involved instead of adhering to alienating jargon. The second communications strategy—building bridges—works to overcome the boundaries that separate knowledge mobilizers in terms of their “epistemological, discursive, and disciplinary divides” (8). This can be as simple as meeting in an informal, friendly setting where all parties are encouraged to voice their opinions in a respectful environment. The final knowledge mobilization strategy, transmedia, allows actors to present their ideas through different media formats in order to communicate them more effectively and to a wider audience. Although this study succeeds at bringing academic and community-based researchers into communication with each other, the institutional hierarchy that still operates according to a knowledge transfer model (versus a knowledge mobilization model) often undermines these efforts.
Cooper, Amanda, and Ben Levin. 2010. “Some Canadian Contributions to Understanding Knowledge Mobilisation.” Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice 6 (3): 351–69. https://doi:.org/10.1332/174426410X524839.
- Cooper and Levin describe the challenges associated with knowledge mobilization and suggest various methods to overcome them. They define knowledge mobilization as an emerging field that is dedicated to strengthening the links between research, policy, and practice across various disciplines and sectors. The authors assert that gaps between research, policy, and practice are the result of two major factors: the absence of research impact evidence, and the fact that knowledge mobilization is often interdisciplinary, and therefore lacks a formalized system. Cooper and Levin point out that the Canada Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF) have supported the majority of contributions to knowledge mobilization. They assert that collaborative practices are vital to knowledge mobilization since overall improvement depends on different groups working together. The authors also present the Research Supporting Practice in Education (RSPE)—a program that is dedicated to empirical studies in various educational settings. They conclude by providing a list of quick, attainable practices that can improve knowledge mobilization in various environments.
Gainforth, Heather L., Amy E. Latimer-Cheung, Spencer Moore, Peter Athanasopoulos, and Kathleen A. Martin Ginis. 2014. “Using Network Analysis to Understand Knowledge Mobilization in a Community-Based Organization.” International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 22 (3): 292–300. https://doi:.org/10.1007/s12529-014-9430-6.
- Gainforth et al. present a method for measuring the feasibility of utilizing network analysis to trace the flow of knowledge mobilization within a community-based organization. They address the challenges that arise in conducting network analysis in community-based organizations and research environments and provide practical and ethical solutions. Based on a case study conducted on a specific group operating within the organization, authors demonstrate that network analsyis is able to generate a rich description of the processes of a community-based organization that practices knowledge mobilization. The major limitations of the study include the lack of a comparison group in relation to which they can test the efficiency of their method; the fact that network analysis is only able to provide information about a specific moment within a study rather than an ongoing process, and that the researchers were unable to retest their findings with the network analysis instrument and had to take the results at face value. Despite these limitations, the authors assert that network analysis is a rich knowledge mobilization method and is useful for helping community-based organizations attain their goal of being a reliable voice for the various communities they work with.
Graham, Ian D., Jacqueline Tetroe, and KT Theories Research Group. 2007. “Some Theoretical Underpinnings of Knowledge Translation.” Academic Emergency Medicine 14 (11): 936–41. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1553-2712.2007.tb02369.x.
- Graham and Tetroe determine the primary planned action theories within the science implementation field. The motivation for this study stems from a desire to remediate the gap found in implementing research into practice, and from recognizing that implementation practices themselves are more successful when situated within a conceptual framework. The study was carried out in the fields of education, health sciences, management, and social sciences, where 31 planned action theories were identified and analyzed for their origin, meaning, logical consistency, generalizability and parsimony, testability, and usefulness. The authors assert that the selection of a model should be based on a review of how its elements relate to the action categories that were derived from their theory analyses, and that the specific needs of end-users should be an integral part of the planning and evaluation process. Graham and Tetroe point out that many models have not yet been tested and urge those who use them to record and share their experiences in order to enrich research in the field.
Keen, Peter, and Margaret Tan. 2009. “Knowledge Fusion: A Framework for Extending the Rigor and Relevance of Knowledge Management.” In Knowledge Management, Organizational Memory and Transfer Behavior: Global Approaches and Advancements, edited by George Kelley, 358-74. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference – Imprint of IGI Publishing. https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/knowledge-fusion-framework-extending-rigor/28677.
- Keen and Tan propose a knowledge fusion framework for leveraging their work in order for it to serve as a vehicle for knowledge mobilization in the knowledge management field. They point out major gaps in existing knowledge and assert that a clear distinction between knowledge management and knowledge mobilization ought to be maintained in order to produce a meaningful discourse instead of perpetuating the blurry definitions of the past. The authors argue that knowledge management itself is axiomatic rather than definitional. Partitioning these multiple domains is necessary for linking them to the existing body of knowledge and for identifying their theories and practices. The four main partitions of knowledge fusion are knowledge management, knowledge mobilization, knowledge embodiments, and knowledge regimes. These partitions are aimed at making links to the existing body of knowledge and practice related to knowledge management. The authors claim that this framework is an attempt to contextualize and shape knowledge management rather than to homogenize it or to serve as a model or theory.
Landry, Réjean, Nabil Amara, and Moktar Lamari. 2001. “Utilization of Social Science Research Knowledge in Canada.” Research Policy 30 (2): 333–49. https://doi:.org/10.1016/S0048-7333(00)00081-0.
- Landry, Amara, and Lamari explore the extent to which social science research is used in Canada, how it is distributed across disciplines within the field, and what determines the utilization of this research. Instead of basing their studies on tracing how policy makers employ this knowledge, the authors focus on how individual researchers promote the usage of their research. The authors provide an overview of existing theoretical models of knowledge utilization, including the science push model, the demand pull model, the dissemination model, and the interaction model. They conduct a survey of 3,252 faculty members from 55 Canadian universities, who they asked about the extent of the utilization of their research. The authors also study whether there is a difference in this utilization across social science disciplines; the results show that research carried out in professional social sciences, such as social work and industrial relations, is more frequently used than disciplinary social sciences, such as anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology. They conclude that knowledge utilization primarily depends on the behaviour of researchers and the users’ context rather than the research product itself. Their findings also show that existing theories are inefficient in measuring the utilization of research since the process is far more complex than these theories propose.
Lavis, John N. 2006. “Research, Public Policymaking, and Knowledge-Translation Processes: Canadian Efforts to Build Bridges.” The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 26 (1): 37–45. https://doi:.org/10.1002/chp.49.
- Lavis addresses the processes involved in public policymaking when carrying out institutional arrangements and the need for timely knowledge translation in these cases. The author conducts research in the health sciences and observes that public policymakers are sometimes asked to make fairly quick decisions with the lack of relevant high-quality research at hand. He argues that knowledge translation can make meaningful connections between research and public policymaking in a number of ways: through systematic reviews that address the questions asked by public policymakers; through “push” efforts by researchers of interested parties that present research about a certain issue to the policymakers; through the “user pull” method by these same groups that can help policymakers identify the relevant research in relation to a topic they are working with; and through the “friendly front ends” method that stands for systematic reviews which have a graded-entry format. Lavis strongly advocates bridging the gap between research and policymaking by improving knowledge translation processes.
Orlikowski, Wanda J. 2002. “Knowing in Practice: Enacting a Collective Capability in Distributed Organizing.” Organization Science 13 (3): 249–73. https://doi:.org/10.1287/orsc.184.108.40.20676.
- Orlikowski presents a knowledge-in-practice perspective on successful work in complex organizational environments, with a focus on the process involved in the effective distribution of organization in global product development settings. Her main argument is that effective work is the result of properly distributed organizational knowledge that is carried out in everyday practices. She conducts a case study on Kappa, a large software company headquartered in the Netherlands with branches in other countries. Apart from certain variables involved in success, such as creativity, leadership, and strategic positioning, the author argues that overall success is primarily grounded in the way in which employees go about everyday practices related to “temporal, geographic, political, cultural, technical, and social boundaries they routinely encounter in their work” (256). Specifically, success is decided by the ways that employees navigate and negotiate between these boundaries. According to Orlikowski, the social aspect plays a vital role in successfully managing projects, and frequent communication ensures that participants are aware and current regarding their work and work distribution. She concludes that Kappa owes much of its success to knowing how to efficiently distribute product development and organize knowledge in a continuous and stable manner.
Phipps, David. 2012. “A Report Detailing the Development of a University-Based Knowledge Mobilization Unit that Enhances Research Outreach and Engagement.” Scholarly and Research Communication 2 (2): n.p. http://src-online.ca/index.php/src/article/view/31.
- Phipps shares his perspective on knowledge mobilization as a practitioner who has been delivering various knowledge mobilization services in a university-based setting for over five years. He defines knowledge mobilization as “a suite of services, actions, and activities that work together to support research outreach and engagement” (2), one that connects researchers and decision-makers. Phipps describes six services developed by the knowledge mobilization unit that fall under four general methods: producer push, user pull, knowledge exchange, and co-production. He argues that a successful knowledge mobilization strategy may be achieved when researchers and decision-makers communicate effectively and are supported by trained brokers who can utilize the appropriate knowledge mobilization services in order to meet decision-makers’ needs. Phipps provides general recommendations that may help in a knowledge mobilization action plan, including finding appropriate leaders, collecting data that may serve as basis for evaluation over time, finding grants for seed funding, and hiring the right knowledge brokers.
Ward, Vicky, Allan House, and Susan Hamer. 2009. “Developing a Framework for Transferring Knowledge into Action: A Thematic Analysis of the Literature.” Journal of Health Services Research & Policy 14 (3): 156–64. https://doi:.org/10.1258/jhsrp.2009.008120.
- Ward, House, and Hamer attempt to categorize the scholarship on knowledge transfer into an organized conceptual framework. This is done by identifying 28 modes of knowledge transfer literature and subjecting them to thematic analysis that would help identify the processes involved in transferring knowledge into action. According to the authors, the five main components involved in knowledge transfer are problem identification and communication, knowledge/research development and selection, context analysis, knowledge transfer activities or interventions, and knowledge/research utilization. These five components are generally categorized into three knowledge transfer processes, which can be linear, cyclical, or dynamic multidirectional processes. The authors state that the importance and applicability of these components within the conceptual framework is unknown, which is why their study utilizes this framework as a basis for drawing research from various case studies. Ideally, they hope to create a model that can serve as an infrastructure for planning and evaluating the processes involved in knowledge transfer.
- Anderson, Colin R., and Stéphane M. McLachlan. 2015. “Transformative Research as Knowledge Mobilization: Transmedia, Bridges, and Layers.” Action Research 14 (3): 295 – 317. https://doi:.org/10.1177/1476750315616684.
- Cooper, Amanda, and Ben Levin. 2010. “Some Canadian Contributions to Understanding Knowledge Mobilisation.” Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice 6 (3): 351–69. https://doi:.org/10.1332/174426410X524839.
- Gainforth, Heather L., Amy E. Latimer-Cheung, Spencer Moore, Peter Athanasopoulos, and Kathleen A. Martin Ginis. 2014. “Using Network Analysis to Understand Knowledge Mobilization in a Community-Based Organization.” International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 22 (3): 292–300. https://doi:.org/10.1007/s12529-014-9430-6.
- Graham, Ian D., Jacqueline Tetroe, and KT Theories Research Group. 2007. “Some Theoretical Underpinnings of Knowledge Translation.” Academic Emergency Medicine 14 (11): 936–41. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1553-2712.2007.tb02369.x.
- Keen, Peter, and Margaret Tan. 2009. “Knowledge Fusion: A Framework for Extending the Rigor and Relevance of Knowledge Management.” In Knowledge Management, Organizational Memory and Transfer Behavior: Global Approaches and Advancements, edited by George Kelley, 358-74. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference – Imprint of IGI Publishing. https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/knowledge-fusion-framework-extending-rigor/28677.
- Landry, Réjean, Nabil Amara, and Moktar Lamari. 2001. “Utilization of Social Science Research Knowledge in Canada.” Research Policy 30 (2): 333–49. https://doi:.org/10.1016/S0048-7333(00)00081-0.
- Lavis, John N. 2006. “Research, Public Policymaking, and Knowledge-Translation Processes: Canadian Efforts to Build Bridges.” The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 26 (1): 37–45. https://doi:.org/10.1002/chp.49.
- Orlikowski, Wanda J. 2002. “Knowing in Practice: Enacting a Collective Capability in Distributed Organizing.” Organization Science 13 (3): 249–73. https://doi:.org/10.1287/orsc.220.127.116.1176.
- Phipps, David. 2012. “A Report Detailing the Development of a University-Based Knowledge Mobilization Unit that Enhances Research Outreach and Engagement.” Scholarly and Research Communication 2 (2): n.p. http://src-online.ca/index.php/src/article/view/31.
- Ward, Vicky, Allan House, and Susan Hamer. 2009. “Developing a Framework for Transferring Knowledge into Action: A Thematic Analysis of the Literature.” Journal of Health Services Research & Policy 14 (3): 156–64. https://doi:.org/10.1258/jhsrp.2009.008120.