Prerequisites for effective collaboration identified
Co-makership: professionals and researchers establish link between research and practice
Shared ownership, trust and working in small project teams contribute to the implementation of research results in water practice. This is shown in research conducted by KWR’s Knowledge Management Knowledge Group into the success factors in co-makership: a form of knowledge development in which researchers from different scientific disciplines work together with the stakeholders who apply the resulting knowledge in practice. Co-makership is an important method in ensuring that the knowledge dovetails with and is applied in practice.
The application of knowledge in practice should be central to the entire research process, from agenda-setting, to execution, to implementation. It is also important that the – preferably small and expert – project group, comprising researchers and professionals, have a sense of shared ownership of the research and its results. They should also pay attention to the transfer of each individual’s “implicit” knowledge to the others, besides the incorporation of knowledge in reports and presentations. Implicit knowledge is knowledge derived from one’s (personal) experience and the lens through which one looks at things. This knowledge frequently remains unused. Bringing implicit knowledge out into the open can also add to the mutual trust between the research partners – an indispensible aspect of successful knowledge implementation is the confidence the professional end-user has in the quality of the research conducted.
In November 2014, after conducting a theoretical exploration, a focus group – made up of water company professionals and KWR researchers – turns its attention to identifying the success factors in co-makership. Tineke Slootweg, Chemical Water Quality Advisor at HWL, and a member of the BTO’s theme group on New Measurement Methods and Sensoring, was part of the focus group: “The insights into co-makership that arose in the focus group were very familiar. Getting professionals closely involved with the research, through an expert group for example, is in practice always important for the quality and usability of project results. And I think that being open to different forms of implicit knowledge, which your colleagues or project group members possess, can indeed greatly contribute to achieving optimal research results.”
Vincent de Laat, Business Development Analyst at Brabant Water, was also part of the focus group. “KWR has excellent theoretical knowledge in house, and also ensures that the gap between science and practical application is well bridged,” he says. “The relationship of trust between KWR and the companies constitutes an important foundation for this. But the bridge is under continuous tension. Co-makership can play an important role in moving project results through to water practice. Open communication about everybody’s motivations and objectives contributes to the necessary mutual trust, and helps the project teams and theme groups to stay on the same track. This is also important for the water companies among themselves: not all companies stress the same things or pursue the same objectives; openness about these differences ensures that they can effectively collaborate with each other.”
KWR uses the results of this research, in the first place, to further improve the water sector’s joint research programme (BTO). In addition, the insights obtained are also of interest to other research programmes.
© 2017 KWR Watercycle Research Institute
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