Toward design principles for joint knowledge production projects: lessons from the deepest polder of The Netherlands

Dries Hegger*, Annemarie Van Zeijl-Rozema, Carel Dieperink

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    22 Citations (Web of Science)


    In various countries, actors try to reconcile climate science and policy through joint knowledge production (JNP). While many conceptual analyses of JNP exist, empirical studies that actually try to assess JNP processes are rare. This paper aims to fill this gap through an empirical analysis of the 'Hotspot Zuidplaspolder' project in which scientists, policymakers and other actors collaboratively looked for ways to 'climate proof' existing plans for urban development in one of the deepest polders of the Netherlands. The analysis is done by identifying and explaining the credibility and salience of the knowledge produced as well as the perceived legitimacy of the JNP process. Seven success factors derived from existing literature were used in the analysis. Stakeholders appeared to evaluate this project as positive, but the analysis shows that criteria and thresholds regarding success differ between the actors involved. We found three underlying design principles that should be followed to enhance the success of future JNP projects. First, it is necessary to organize several instances for reflection on the project processes. Second, new reward structures are needed to stimulate actors to take new initiatives and come up with creative ideas. Third, projects and programs should provide room to make mistakes and learn from them. This first set of empirical design principles for JNP is useful but should be further refined and nuanced in order to better deal with the social complexity of climate change and other wicked problems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1049-1062
    JournalRegional Environmental Change
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


    • Joint knowledge production
    • Knowledge
    • Co-production
    • Science-policy interface
    • Climate change adaptation
    • Success factors
    • Land-use planning
    • Regional level

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