Internationally, science and technology funding for collaborative research involving external stakeholder communities is on the increase. Funding bodies consider these collaborations will be able to produce more innovative and useable outcomes, and may increase the support of stakeholders and community groups for research. Yet social researchers report that members of diverse research teams have a genuine inability to collaborate due to poor communication.

Using concepts gathered from social identity theory (SIT), this paper examines the processes that enhance or inhibit communication between researchers and stakeholder communities in areas of collaborative research. Communication professionals from 17 Australian Cooperative Research Centres discussed communication between researchers and stakeholder communities (landholders, industry groups and urban community groups etc.) in collaborative projects within their organisations. Results show that issues of group identity - including loyalty, bias and adhering to group norms - impact significantly on communication, and hence, collaboration. Specifically, participants highlighted factors including establishing source credibility, the impact of the values and norms of the different groups, group boundaries, the role of boundary spanners, and identification with the research organisation.

Participants also provided many suggestions for improving communication in these arrangements, and many suggestions acknowledged the importance of understanding the group identity issues of the diverse group participants. However, some suggestions and current practices exhibited a lack of understanding of intergroup relations and the collaborative process, and were often driven by the needs of one dominant group. Underlying these suggestions was a pervasive attitude that, rather than a commitment to the collaborative process, less prestigious groups needed to be `educated`.

">
 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Identity and communication
Who collaborates in collaborative research?

Michelle Riedlinger   The University of Queensland

Internationally, science and technology funding for collaborative research involving external stakeholder communities is on the increase. Funding bodies consider these collaborations will be able to produce more innovative and useable outcomes, and may increase the support of stakeholders and community groups for research. Yet social researchers report that members of diverse research teams have a genuine inability to collaborate due to poor communication.

Using concepts gathered from social identity theory (SIT), this paper examines the processes that enhance or inhibit communication between researchers and stakeholder communities in areas of collaborative research. Communication professionals from 17 Australian Cooperative Research Centres discussed communication between researchers and stakeholder communities (landholders, industry groups and urban community groups etc.) in collaborative projects within their organisations. Results show that issues of group identity - including loyalty, bias and adhering to group norms - impact significantly on communication, and hence, collaboration. Specifically, participants highlighted factors including establishing source credibility, the impact of the values and norms of the different groups, group boundaries, the role of boundary spanners, and identification with the research organisation.

Participants also provided many suggestions for improving communication in these arrangements, and many suggestions acknowledged the importance of understanding the group identity issues of the diverse group participants. However, some suggestions and current practices exhibited a lack of understanding of intergroup relations and the collaborative process, and were often driven by the needs of one dominant group. Underlying these suggestions was a pervasive attitude that, rather than a commitment to the collaborative process, less prestigious groups needed to be `educated`.

[PDF 33.21 kB]Download the full paper (PDF 33.21 kB)

BACK TO TOP