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Knowledge management in the field of natural hazards and risk management in Switzerland. An empirical analysis of knowledge communication between science and practice.

English title Knowledge management in the field of natural hazards and risk management in Switzerland. An empirical analysis of knowledge communication between science and practice.
Applicant Eppler Martin
Number 126917
Funding scheme Interdisciplinary projects
Research institution Institut für Medien- und Kommunikationsmanagement Universität St. Gallen
Institution of higher education University of St.Gallen - SG
Main discipline Communication sciences
Start/End 01.11.2009 - 28.02.2013
Approved amount 173'227.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Communication sciences
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences
Sociology
Forest Engineering

Keywords (5)

knowledge management; knowledge communication; community of practice; practice turn; natural hazards risk management

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Knowledge management in the field of natural hazards and risk management in Switzerland. An empirical analysis of knowledge communication between science and practice.
Lay summary

Professional knowing and knowledge and its communication is crucial for any kind of organization. Not only the acquisition of knowledge, but also its sharing in operational routines is essential. Knowledge communication can be regarded as an essential mechanism to facilitate intra- and inter-organizational knowledge transfer. It designates the interact conveying and co-constructing of insights, assessments, experiences, or skills through verbal and non-verbal means (Eppler, 2007). This research project has focused on empirically investigating problems and solutions of knowledge communication among science and practice a natural hazards community. Specifically, we have conducted two studies in in-situ organizational settings, which are also presented in a dissertation as a final product of this project.

The first study has focused on the quality of knowledge communication in organizations and resulted in a guideline for clear knowledge communication in complex settings, including a management approach, problem patterns, improvement heuristics and checklists. The second study reports on an investigation on knowledge communication in a community of practice (CoP), namely the one of natural hazards risk management in Switzerland. In this CoP enormous efforts have been undertaken to improve the management of natural hazards: A strategy for dealing with natural hazards has been developed and implemented, and an online-planning tool has been established. Both elements have been the object of investigation.

In both studies, two different theoretical approaches to knowledge management and organizational learning have been applied: the knowledge-based view, which establishes knowledge as the most important resource in an organization, and the social theory of practice, which argues for an actor-centered view and the importance of context, social action and involvement of socio-material objects and practices. By this twofold theoretical paradigm, comparisons and a deep understanding of the processes were gained.

The contribution of this research project is fourfold: 1) We have developed a method to improve the quality of knowledge communication by applying the concept of clarity. 2) We have developed a better understanding of the praxis of knowledge communication in a community of practice including its actors and their attitudes (e.g. towards strategic change) and the artefacts in use. Such a deep understanding is a prerequisite to enable effective collaboration in practice. 3) Patterns of perception of strategic change in a community of practice have been found and recommendations for their anticipation have been elaborated. 4) A method to use interactive visualizations in qualitative interviewing as a way to improve knowledge communication is provided.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.03.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Wirksame Wissenskommunikation zwischen Forschern und Praktikern
Eppler M. und Bischof N. (2013), Wirksame Wissenskommunikation zwischen Forschern und Praktikern, in Wissenschaftsmanagement – Zeitschrift für Innovation, (02), 32-35.
What Is an Effective Knowledge Visualization?: Insights from a Review of Seminal Concepts
Eppler M. (2012), What Is an Effective Knowledge Visualization?: Insights from a Review of Seminal Concepts, in Banissi E. e. a. (ed.), Springer,, London, 3-12.
Klarheit in der Wissenskommunikation: Wie kann man komplexes Wissen vermitteln?
Bischof N. (2011), Klarheit in der Wissenskommunikation: Wie kann man komplexes Wissen vermitteln?, in Wissensmanagement – das Magazin für Führungskräfte, (8), 30-32.
Complex to Clear. Managing Clarity in Corporate Communication.
Eppler M. Bischof N. (2011), Complex to Clear. Managing Clarity in Corporate Communication..
Caring for Clarity in Knowledge Communication
Bischof N. & Eppler M. J. (2011), Caring for Clarity in Knowledge Communication, in Journal of Universal Computer Science, 17(10), 1455-1473.
Wandelkommunikation lernen – Ein Blick hinter die Kulissen.
Bischof N. (2011), Wandelkommunikation lernen – Ein Blick hinter die Kulissen., in OrganisationsEntwicklung. Zeitschrift für Unternehmensentwicklung und Change Management, 15.
Integral risk management of natural hazards-A system analysis of operational application to rapid mass movements
Bischof N, Romang H, Brundl M (2009), Integral risk management of natural hazards-A system analysis of operational application to rapid mass movements, in Safety, Reliability and Risk Analysis, Taylor and Francis, London.
Akteurskonstellationen und Wissenskommunikation im Naturgefahrenmanagement der Schweiz
Bischof N. Kienholz H. Eppler M.J., Akteurskonstellationen und Wissenskommunikation im Naturgefahrenmanagement der Schweiz, in Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Forstwesen.
Beyond projection: using visualization in conducting interviews
Comi A. Bischof N. and Eppler M.J. (, Beyond projection: using visualization in conducting interviews, in Qualitative Research in Organization and Management, 1.
Wandel müheloser verankern durch Antizipation möglicher Reaktionen
Bischof N., Wandel müheloser verankern durch Antizipation möglicher Reaktionen, in OrganisationsEntwicklung. Zeitschrift für Unternehmensentwicklung und Change Management, 1.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Universidad del Pacifico Peru (South America)
- Exchange of personnel
Centre for Interdisciplinary Research Germany (Europe)
- Exchange of personnel
Universität Lugano Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Universität Reading Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- Publication
University of Essex Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Universität Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Cambridge Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- Exchange of personnel
WSL Institut für Schnee und Lawinenforschung SLF Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
International Snow Science Workshop 2012 16.09.2012 Anchorage, USA
Academy of Management Annual Meeting 04.08.2012 Boston, USA
28th EGOS Colloquium 04.07.2012 Helsinki, FI
INTERPRAEVENT 2012 23.04.2012 Grenoble, France
European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2012 22.04.2012 Wien, Austria
Swiss Festival of Methods 16.09.2011 Basel, CH
15th International Information Visualisation Conference 15.07.2011 London, UK
Organizational Learning and Knowledge Capabilities Conference 11.04.2011 Hull, UK
SGKM Jahrestagung „Bild‐Kommunikation‐Medien“ 08.04.2011 Basel, CH
International Knowledge Management Conference I‐KNOW 01.09.2010 Graz, Austria


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) – Europe Conference 21.06.2010 London, UK

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
PLANAT-Plattformtagung 2012 20.03.2012 Aarau, CH
WSL-Wissenstransfer 07.11.2011 Birmensdorf, CH
IABC EuroComm 2011 07.04.2011 Turin, Italy
FEIEA Academy 15.10.2010 Vienna, Austria


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Klartext reden ist eine Kunst 20Minuten Wissen German-speaking Switzerland 02.09.2011
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Clear Communication International
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Knowledge Communication International

Abstract

Professional knowing and knowledge and its communication is crucial for any kind of organization. Not only the acquisition of knowledge, but also its sharing in operational routines is essential. Knowledge communication can be regarded as an essential mechanism to facilitate intra- and inter-organizational knowledge transfer. It designates the interact conveying and co-constructing of insights, assessments, experiences, or skills through verbal and non-verbal means (Eppler, 2007). This research project has focused on empirically investigating problems and solutions of knowledge communication among science and practice a natural hazards community. Specifically, we have conducted two studies in in-situ organizational settings, which are also presented in a dissertation as a final product of this project.The first study has focused on the quality of knowledge communication in organizations and resulted in a guideline for clear knowledge communication in complex settings, including a management approach, problem patterns, improvement heuristics and checklists. The second study reports on an investigation on knowledge communication in a community of practice (CoP), namely the one of natural hazards risk management in Switzerland. In this CoP enormous efforts have been undertaken to improve the management of natural hazards: A strategy for dealing with natural hazards has been developed and implemented, and an online-planning tool has been established. Both elements have been the object of investigation. In both studies, two different theoretical approaches to knowledge management and organizational learning have been applied: the knowledge-based view, which establishes knowledge as the most important resource in an organization, and the social theory of practice, which argues for an actor-centered view and the importance of context, social action and involvement of socio-material objects and practices. By this twofold theoretical paradigm, comparisons and a deep understanding of the processes were gained. The contribution of this research project is fourfold: 1) We have developed a method to improve the quality of knowledge communication by applying the concept of clarity. 2) We have developed a better understanding of the praxis of knowledge communication in a community of practice including its actors and their attitudes (e.g. towards strategic change) and the artefacts in use. Such a deep understanding is a prerequisite to enable effective collaboration in practice. 3) Patterns of perception of strategic change in a community of practice have been found and recommendations for their anticipation have been elaborated. 4) A method to use interactive visualizations in qualitative interviewing as a way to improve knowledge communication is provided.
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