Addressing complex scientific challenges involves communicating and collaborating with a wide array of stakeholder groups, ranging from public communities to decision-making institutions. One approach to productively facilitating this exchange is through the work of so-called boundary organizations – institutions which bridge the gaps between scientific, political, and social groups. Identifying such organizations by three key attributes (facilitating the use of boundary objects, including participants from both sides of the boundary, and having accountability to both sides; Guston 2001), existing work has developed a wide array of case studies of boundary organizations in action (Miller 2001; Crona & Parker 2011). This research and theorizing, however, has focused on boundary organizations developed or supported by public sector entities like governments or universities. Accordingly, research on boundary organizations has generally neglected to identify and study an important alternative form of boundary organization, the for-profit consulting firm. In this paper, I argue that some consulting firms can serve as a distinctive kind of boundary organization, leveraging alternative approaches to framing, mediating, and solving real-world sociotechnical challenges like natural resource management, social systems design, and climate change. I illustrate these characteristics through a contemporary case study of a small Australian firm, conducted through a series of semi-structured interviews, observation, and document analysis. In particular, I demonstrate that for-profit boundary organizations adopt unique styles of engaging public & private stakeholders, mediating conflicting positions, and communicating with the wider world. Not only does this work significantly advance our theoretical understanding of boundary organizations by demonstrating a new class of groups that meaningfully fit the definition, but it offers lessons in facilitating effective science communication & exchange between diverse stakeholders.

Sub-area: Science communication empowering scientists and the public Proponent: ERIC B. KENNEDY
Institution: CONSORTIUM FOR SCIENCE, POLICY, AND OUTCOMES; ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

Country: United States
Presenter: Eric B. Kennedy - Eric B. Kennedy - Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes - Arizona State University, United States

">
 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Communication, facilitation, and public/policy engagement with science
For-profit consulting firms as boundary organizations

Eric Kennedy   Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes - Arizona State University, United States

Addressing complex scientific challenges involves communicating and collaborating with a wide array of stakeholder groups, ranging from public communities to decision-making institutions. One approach to productively facilitating this exchange is through the work of so-called boundary organizations – institutions which bridge the gaps between scientific, political, and social groups. Identifying such organizations by three key attributes (facilitating the use of boundary objects, including participants from both sides of the boundary, and having accountability to both sides; Guston 2001), existing work has developed a wide array of case studies of boundary organizations in action (Miller 2001; Crona & Parker 2011). This research and theorizing, however, has focused on boundary organizations developed or supported by public sector entities like governments or universities. Accordingly, research on boundary organizations has generally neglected to identify and study an important alternative form of boundary organization, the for-profit consulting firm. In this paper, I argue that some consulting firms can serve as a distinctive kind of boundary organization, leveraging alternative approaches to framing, mediating, and solving real-world sociotechnical challenges like natural resource management, social systems design, and climate change. I illustrate these characteristics through a contemporary case study of a small Australian firm, conducted through a series of semi-structured interviews, observation, and document analysis. In particular, I demonstrate that for-profit boundary organizations adopt unique styles of engaging public & private stakeholders, mediating conflicting positions, and communicating with the wider world. Not only does this work significantly advance our theoretical understanding of boundary organizations by demonstrating a new class of groups that meaningfully fit the definition, but it offers lessons in facilitating effective science communication & exchange between diverse stakeholders.

Sub-area: Science communication empowering scientists and the public Proponent: ERIC B. KENNEDY
Institution: CONSORTIUM FOR SCIENCE, POLICY, AND OUTCOMES; ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

Country: United States
Presenter: Eric B. Kennedy - Eric B. Kennedy - Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes - Arizona State University, United States

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

BACK TO TOP