#ShitDavidSays About Impact #2: It’s Not About Supply and Demand / Les idées de David sur l’impact, no 2 : Ce n’est pas une question d’offre et de demande

David Phipps is writing about his lessons after more than a decade of impact. This second post recognizes that academics aren’t the only ones who do research. Knowledge mobilization isn’t about supply and demand of knowledge, it’s about finding complementary expertise.
David Phipps partage les leçons qu’il a apprises en plus de dix ans dans le milieu de l’impact. Dans ce deuxième billet, il reconnait que les universitaires ne sont pas les seuls à faire de la recherche. Mais la mobilisation des connaissances ne concerne pas l’offre et la demande en matière de connaissances – il s’agit en fait d’apparier des expertises complémentaires. Les détails à #ShitDavidSays About Impact.

"Community research is a mile wide and an inch deep while academic research is an inch wide and a mile deep" David PhippsThe first grant application that seeded the York U-UVic knowledge mobilization partnership on was written as a technology transfer application geared to the social sciences. All we needed to do was package up the excellent research at our universities, send it out and magically someone would use it. We had lots of dissemination strategies all predicated on universities having knowledge that someone else could use.
It never occurred to us that they might not want it. It never occurred to us to ask them what they wanted. We had the knowledge supply and they had a demand for our knowledge.
In fact, within months our community partners, York Region District School and the Human Services Planning Board of York Region, asked us to stop pushing our research on them. After a few more conversations we needed to move to a “pull” model where we responded to the needs of our non-academic partners.
Non-academic organizations do research. Industry does applied research to turn ideas into products. Governments do research so policy decisions are based (in part) on evidence. Community organizations do research to understand their communities so that services are aligned with the needs of citizens.
Knowledge mobilization isn’t about supply and demand. It is less about transferring knowledge (although this is also important) and more about understanding needs to enable co-producing collaborations based on complementary expertise.
One of the first conversations we have at KMb York when we are seeking a researcher to speak with a non-academic partner is, “remember, you don’t know it all”. Academic researchers have one type of knowledge. It is valuable. But so is the knowledge and expertise in community, industry, governments, and especially in those with lived experience.
If an academic researcher can’t appreciate the value of other forms of knowledge and expertise we will celebrate and support their excellent academic scholarship. But that doesn’t make them an excellent partner for a knowledge mobilization opportunity.
There are three conditions that need to be satisfied to make a good knowledge mobilization opportunity:
1- When the research is “right”: when the research has the potential to have a life inside a company making a product, a government making a policy or a community organization delivering a service.
2- When the researcher is “right”: we are not only seeking an excellent researcher but an excellent researcher who appreciates s/he doesn’t know it all.
3- When the partner has the capacity to participate authentically: Industry (usually if a large corporation) and government (often) have embedded research capacity. Community organizations do research but on a very tight budget (time, money, other resources). How can we in the academy help build capacity (i.e. make time) for our partners to participate in an authentic manner.
Knowledge mobilization is facilitated when these three conditions are met.
Stay tuned as these seven posts about #ShitDavidSays about impact roll out. And if you want to see a webinar on #ShitDavidSays about Impact you can pay to attend a webinar sponsored by the Canadian Association of Research Administrators at noon Eastern on November 10, 2017. More info available here.