RESPONDER is based on a transactional network understanding of knowledge brokerage: While systems theory sees policy-making and research as different self-referential systems and discusses the fundamental limits of knowledge transfer, management-oriented decision models assume that the right information automatically leads to a different decision, following a rather mechanistic perspective, often resulting in rather simple solutions. RESPONDER follows a third approach, namely the transactional network model: it highlights the contextual factors of knowledge transfer and offers a broader but still manageable perspective on policy-science interaction.
RESPONDER applies knowledge brokerage for policy areas with a high potential for conflicts: Linking sustainable consumption with the growth debates is a policy area which is characterised by paradigmatic contradictions, conflicts of interest and trade-offs between policies. RESPONDER will develop and test innovative, appropriate and transferable tools. They will be combined in a modular way with clear interfaces, multiple feedback loops and a procedure for continuous improvement.
RESPONDER applies participatory system mapping for knowledge brokerage for the first time: Participatory system mapping is based on the concept of system dynamics and combines the advantages of systems thinking, soft system analysis and modelling. While methods of system dynamics have been successfully used in several regional decision-support projects, RESPONDER will apply this methodology on a more general level on the one hand, and on five different consumption fields on the other.
RESPONDER supports strong and continuous interactions between policy makers and researchers: Scholars highlighted the role of sustained dialogue processes for improving the use of scientific evidence in the policy process. The RESPONDER dialogues and knowledge brokerage events will build on each other and will be supported by the internet-based knowledge brokerage platform. This combined online-offline process design enables and stimulates networking as an important factor of successful knowledge brokerage.
Added value of RESPONDER sustainable consumption and economic growth debates: Policy problems in these two areas can be characterised as complex problems, where the dynamics of the systems are not necessarily linear with a number of different, equally legitimate and plausible perspectives. The RESPONDER approach improves the mutual understanding of people coming from different communities with different paradigms. By doing so, both the transferability of the tools and methods and scientific relevance of findings will be strengthened.