Knowledge co-production and researcher roles in transdisciplinary environmental management projects

Joanne Vinke - de Kruijf*, Laura N.H. Verbrugge, Barbara Schröter , Robert-Jan den Haan, Vivian Juliette Cortes Arevalo, Jan M. Fliervoet, Jennifer Henze, Christian Albert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Calls for transformative change and participatory modes of knowledge production demand researchers to assume new roles. This paper synthesizes the literature on knowledge co-production and researcher roles to explore challenges for researchers involved in transdisciplinary environmental management projects. Our research methods combine a scoping review and reflections on personal experiences with three transdisciplinary projects. To conceptualize researcher roles in transdisciplinary knowledge co-production, we distinguish between three spaces: knowledge, formal policy, and stakeholder. Knowledge co-production requires collaboration between actors from different spaces and integration of diverse knowledge sources and types. Depending on whether researchers adopt knowledge-oriented, change-oriented or intermediating roles, they will experience different challenges. When researchers combine knowledge development with change-oriented and/or intermediating roles, they encounter new challenges, such as, maintaining independence or objectivity. To assist researchers in transdisciplinary projects, we conclude with a checklist of four elements to reflect upon: orientation, norms and values, expectations and resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-405
Number of pages13
JournalSustainable development
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


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