Listening, interpretative cycles and dialogue: process design for collaborative research and development.

Kersten, S. and Ison, R. (1998). Listening, interpretative cycles and dialogue: process design for collaborative research and development. Journal of Agricultural Education & Extension, 5(3) pp. 163–177.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13892249885300291

Abstract

This paper describes the design of a process to initiate collaborative research and development (R&D) between pastoralists, researchers and advisors. The design was developed in the semi-arid rangelands of New South Wales, Australia using an action research approach. Past communication between researchers/advisors and pastoralists had been based on a polarised debate about the state of the rangeland. Conflictual, debate-based communication had become embodied in extension approaches and constrained the development of research relationships between pastoralists and researchers. An alternative theoretical framework was developed based on constructivist epistemology. The resultant design was a process in three phases: active listening, interpretative cycles, and dialogue meetings. Important considerations in realising the design were active participation, relationship building, creating mutual respect and fostering a non-threatening environment. When combined they provide an incipient methodology for developing partnerships in R&D (collaborative research) between parties trapped in debate. Careful process design is needed for research partnerships to emerge and for working together towards socially and ecologically sustainable land use.

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