Scientists engaged in technology development are expected to incorporate the views and needs of prospective users and stakeholders to ensure that new technologies are adopted in society. Moreover, developers of new technologies increasingly need to account for whether new technologies are used; funding of further research and technology development partly depends on it. In this study, Dutch plant scientists develop a decision support system to reduce the use of agrochemicals in plant disease management in staple crops. Technology is meant to stimulate a behavioural change in farmers and breeders. To accomplish this, technology developers employ two strategies. Firstly, they communicate with representatives of industry and government. Representatives of an end user group – farmers – do not participate in these meetings. A second strategy developers use are discursive scripts about how farmers and breeders in actual practice combat plant disease and how they relate to new technology. This paper focuses on the use of the latter strategy. The performative function of discursive scripts in multi-stakeholder meetings are analysed. The scripts participants in meetings employ are based on shared and - in meetings - partly negotiated conceptions about how prospective users interpret and employ new technology. As it turns out, participants in meetings differ in the manner they discursively claim to be responsible for these scripts. There are differences in script formulations participants use to manage the extent in which they may be hold accountable for how user and stakeholder scripts are incorporated in the technology and whether the technology is used as intended. Differences in script formulations serve to man. Finally, implications for employing scripts in public/user-scientist interactions in science communication models are discussed.

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The uses of discursive scripts of prospective users in scientist
Stakeholder interaction in plant technology development

Karen Mogendorff   Wageningen University

Scientists engaged in technology development are expected to incorporate the views and needs of prospective users and stakeholders to ensure that new technologies are adopted in society. Moreover, developers of new technologies increasingly need to account for whether new technologies are used; funding of further research and technology development partly depends on it. In this study, Dutch plant scientists develop a decision support system to reduce the use of agrochemicals in plant disease management in staple crops. Technology is meant to stimulate a behavioural change in farmers and breeders. To accomplish this, technology developers employ two strategies. Firstly, they communicate with representatives of industry and government. Representatives of an end user group – farmers – do not participate in these meetings. A second strategy developers use are discursive scripts about how farmers and breeders in actual practice combat plant disease and how they relate to new technology. This paper focuses on the use of the latter strategy. The performative function of discursive scripts in multi-stakeholder meetings are analysed. The scripts participants in meetings employ are based on shared and - in meetings - partly negotiated conceptions about how prospective users interpret and employ new technology. As it turns out, participants in meetings differ in the manner they discursively claim to be responsible for these scripts. There are differences in script formulations participants use to manage the extent in which they may be hold accountable for how user and stakeholder scripts are incorporated in the technology and whether the technology is used as intended. Differences in script formulations serve to man. Finally, implications for employing scripts in public/user-scientist interactions in science communication models are discussed.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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