PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Science Advisors
On the optimal role of science communication in strategic decision making

Albert-Jan Abma   University of Groningen

Menno Gerkema   University of Groningen

Background Organizations outside the scientific community need to be involved in (global) knowledge networks. Many recent studies on innovation and knowledge management show that science communication plays an important role in getting fast and adequate access to new knowledge from outside the organization.

Objective Science Advisors are experts in bridging state-of-the-art scientific expertise and actual challenges in business strategy and policy making. Although the concept of science advisorship is judged promising by advised institutions, improvement is needed in our understanding of the position of Science Advisors, How are they embedded in decision making cycli? Do their advices have added value on the long term? How is dealt with risks and uncertainty? And finally, what kind of communication strategies of Science Advisors is used most profitably in knowledge transfer?

Methods We base our empirical evidence on a database which comprises about 120 innovation projects. These projects were carried out in an educational context in the period 2002-2007, by masterstudents of science in their final internship. Interviews clarified in how far such “junior” science advisors mirror the optimal science advisorship as seen by external organizations.

Results / preliminary conclusions First results make clear that science advisorship can play a role at all management levels, but mainly in the early and late stages of decision making cycli (initiation and evaluation). Risks and uncertainty, a major item for science advisors, demand explicit communication, as strongly recommended by decision makers.

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