Learning from experiences in adaptive action research: A critical comparison of two case studies applying participatory scenario development and modelling approaches

Federica Ravera, Klaus Hubacek*, Mark Reed, David Tarrasón

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper contributes to the emerging debate on participatory modelling at the core of adaptive action research. We compare and reflect upon lessons learned from two projects in very different bio-physical and socio-economic contexts, the UK and Nicaragua, and outline a shared theoretical and methodological framework to assist researchers and local stakeholders to jointly assess, monitor and adapt to climatic and other changes. We discuss opportunities and obstacles, specifically: (1) incorporating uncertainty and surprises; (2) combining epistemologies; (3) dealing with representativeness and power dynamics; (4) creating opportunities for improving stakeholders' agency; and (5) facilitating dialogue and negotiation by using models as heuristics. Our analysis emphasizes the importance of dealing with unavoidable trade-offs when engaging in participatory and interdisciplinary research in complex and uncertain decision-making contexts. The participatory modelling experiences show that stakeholders' involvement throughout the process, epistemological plurality, flexibility and sensitivity to context-dependent socio-cultural processes need to be considered by researchers who wish to enhance the adaptive capacity of the communities they work with.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-453
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironmental Policy and Governance
Volume21
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adaptive action-research
  • Iterative learning
  • Nicaragua
  • Participatory modelling
  • Scenario analysis
  • UK

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