Towards practitioner-initiated interactive knowledge development for sustainable development: A cross-case analysis of three coastal projects

Seijger, C., Dewulf, G., Van Tatenhove, J., & Otter, H. S. (2015). Towards practitioner-initiated interactive knowledge development for sustainable development: A cross-case analysis of three coastal projects. Global Environmental Change, 34, 227-236.

Although the central challenges of sustainable development are well-known, sustainability science has been slow in contributing to effective and feasible solutions for sustainable development. Turning knowledge into action for sustainable development therefore remains a major challenge for sustainability science. Interactive knowledge development is considered a prerequisite for sustainability-oriented action. Most studies approach interactive knowledge development from a researcher’s perspective. This paper focuses on practitioners that initiate interactive knowledge development for sustainability-oriented actions. A cross-case analysis is presented for interactive knowledge development in coastal projects. Three cases are analysed through the framework of project arrangements and knowledge arrangements. The projects are located in the Wadden Sea, San Francisco Bay and the Ems estuary and address issues of flood control, nature restoration and liveability. The cross-case analysis revealed 11 causal mechanisms that help explain how project decision-making impacts on interactive knowledge development, how a process of interactive knowledge development functions and what its outcomes are. The mechanisms clarify the key underlying processes of interactive knowledge development in coastal projects. The mechanisms show that interactive knowledge development may result in sustainability-oriented solutions that are feasible for implementation. As such, this paper contributes to a practice-oriented understanding of turning knowledge into action for sustainable coastal development.