Interactive knowledge development in coastal projects

Chris Seijger

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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A sustainable future of the coastal environment is severely at risk since the coasts are deteriorating and human dependence on coastal space and resources continues to increase. Seeking solutions for coastal development is challenging. Problems of flood control, nature restoration and spatial development are complex, cover multiple interests of for instance economic growth and nature preservation and include large knowledge uncertainties like climate change and soil subsidence. Given this complex reality, the knowledge of researchers is not sufficient to respond to complex coastal problems. Instead, knowledge should be developed in interaction between researchers, policy makers and other societal actors. The objective of this PhD thesis is to explore how processes of interactive knowledge development function in coastal projects. A conceptual framework of project and knowledge arrangements is applied to analyse interactive knowledge development in coastal projects. An arrangement consists of four interrelated dimensions: actors, resources, rules and discourses. The project arrangement focuses on the overall project goals and the activities undertaken to achieve them. The knowledge arrangement conceptualises the process of interactive knowledge development for a particular solution in the project. The conceptual framework is applied in three case studies: the Texel dike reinforcement project in the Wadden Sea, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration project in San Francisco Bay and the Marconi spatial development project in Delfzijl on the banks of the Ems estuary. Data were collected through interviews, observations of project meetings, project documents and field visits. The thesis presents eleven generic mechanisms that explain how a process of interactive knowledge development functions in the studied coastal projects. The mechanisms highlight that interactive knowledge development enhances the feasibility and public support of developed solutions. In addition, the mechanisms show that interactive knowledge development requires specific measures such as a facilitator and easily understood knowledge, to align the contributions of participating actors. Lastly, the mechanisms show that a process of interactive knowledge development consumes substantial more time than ‘basic’ research to address the concerns of participating actors. The thesis ends with recommendations for practitioners who aim to develop knowledge interactively.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Dewulf, Geert, Supervisor
  • van Tatenhove, Jan P.M., Supervisor, External person
  • Otter, H.S., Co-Supervisor
Award date17 Dec 2014
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-94-6203-734-2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2014


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