Relationship-based Knowledge Mobilization: Systems-based KMb and consideration of risk perception for effective uptake by Anneliese Poetz


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Anneliese Poetz, PhD

Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Conference
Monday June 9, 4:30 – 5:00p (Room Poplar)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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  • As part of Ontario’s Nuclear Assets Optimization Plan (NAOP)
  • 8 reactors at Bruce Power, 8 reactors at Pickering (only 6 operational), 4 reactors at Darlington
  • Scientists on the EA review panel were unhappy that they were not listened to, their evidence wasn’t used in making the decision not to have a special review panel (instead of a regular review panel) and the decision to re-license for the refurbishment.
  • Risk had been studied in previous research as 1) quantitative studies (I wanted to understand the qualitative/social dimension of risk in depth), 2) only from viewpoint of public, I wanted to understand the risk perceptions of decision makers, scientists, etc. and how this affected the way they make decisions.

    All previous research had been done from the perspective of the public only – and it was WRONG (said host-communities were stigmatized and ‘dirty’, and painted the picture of the residents being unwilling powerless ‘victims’ of the technology). I wanted to understand the situation from all perspectives.

    If you want to know how decision-makers are using (or not using) research evidence, you gotta ask THEM!
  • 30 semi-structured interviews for the purpose of eliciting insight into a diverse range of experiences with these processes, emphasizing stakeholder engagement and utilization of different forms and sources of knowledge. One focus group was also conducted in Pickering, Ontario with 3 members of the public. Data collection occurred between February and August, 2007. Key documents identified by stakeholders were triangulated with interview data to strengthen the theory. I (the researcher) provided another source of ‘data’ since my own experiences, having lived in a host community, became central to the research as an instrument for reflection during construction of the grounded theory (Milliken and Schreiber, 2001). Open coding and axial coding were used to fracture the data using constant comparison before higher level inductive analysis allowed for the abstraction of a generalizable theory. Situational analysis was used allowing for the presentation of data in terms of situational and positional maps (see Clarke, 2005).

    Used Grounded Theory Methodology, triangulated interviews, focus groups, documents. Used situational analysis which allowed me to map the system, AND map people’s positions about the issues that were concerning them (causing the most conflict) – these turned out to be issues surrounding risk/risk perceptions/management and trust.
  • Local system nested within the national system, which is nested within the global system. Any contingencies or events that happen, even around the globe affects the national system (as well as the local system).

    Example: Changed regulations (at national level) shut down of reactors after Fukushima (was national decision e.g. Germany but affects people locally in terms of energy availability, prices, perceptions about risk, etc.)
  • Can see how this might translate into other sectors such as public health (e.g. WHO, in case of infectious disease epidemic, communication about vaccinations. Vaccinations are highly contentious issue similar to nuclear, but there is a certain level of trust in health care professionals, particularly those you have a good relationship with).
  • Local system is nested within the national system, national system is nested within the global system (next slide).
  • For stakeholder engagement within this system, consider that people’s individual perception of risk will encompass events that happened to other people (e.g. Chernobyl) in different contexts/places with different technology.

    What happens is that we see an emphasis on communications (brochures) that are not effective because they don’t answer people’s individual questions/information needs about risk (parallel to KM because if you don’t meet your target audience’s information needs, your information won’t even be considered), are not an exercise in relationship building. People just throw out those brochures (do not even take up the information let alone use it).

    My message to the nuclear industry was “you can have the best, most expensive, sophisticated communication strategy/products but if the relationship/trust is not there, you are wasting your time/money”

    Same for KM which is why we do IKT, because decision-makers have their own perceptions about risk, and responsibilities for managing risk. Let’s look at the different types of risk and variety of viewpoints from which these risk perceptions originate.
  • Providing relevant information that will be used in decision-making, particularly that informs about risks, is dependent upon relationships/communication. You can only really provide information that a person needs by asking them, involving them in the production of the information (like IKT).
  • The main decision-makers were: CNSC, Industry, Government (province of Ontario)

    Nuclear industry and regulator have their own scientists (trust, context specific research are the issues here), and have specific context-specific knowledge needs, and CNSC/CEAA have specific requirements for the environmental studies as part of the EA, technical data only available to insiders with security clearance AND detailed knowledge about technology is held by people who run this equipment everyday….SECURITY RISKS perceived by DECISION-MAKERS including INDUSTRY AND REGULATOR
  • Example of community based program, if evidence doesn’t “fit” what risk perceptions in community are, have to take a relationship based approach, go meet with community and explain the research and the reasons for the decision (from an evidence-informed perspective) and also listen to their concerns.

    e.g. harm reduction programs (needle exchange).

    Example of brochure “all about performance” how many megawatts produced by nuclear plants – good for shareholders/investors but public doesn’t care, they want to know what are the risks and what is being done about them. Gain trust by being honest about the negatives/risks and the positives!

    KM needs to be fluid and adaptable, that’s why all those static models in literature don’t work for SE.
  • This quote is about the ~130 issues that the residents raised, story about special meeting on the weekend to sort these issues out, and the comment in the bathroom by one of the decision-makers/industry reps during one of the breaks (relationship/trust and potential for conflict).
  • With ongoing stakeholder consultation/relationship building, the nuclear industry won’t get presented with a list of 130 things the public wants done before the application goes in – they will have this in advance, they can have time to address these things in advance of the application, and then the EA part of the application process won’t be delayed (and cost the industry money).
  • Relationship-based Knowledge Mobilization: Systems-based KMb and consideration of risk perception for effective uptake by Anneliese Poetz

    1. 1. Anneliese Poetz, PhD Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Conference Monday June 9, 4:30 – 5:00p (Room Poplar) Saskatoon, Saskatchewan RELATIONSHIP-BASED KNOWLEDGE MOBILIZATION: SYSTEMS-BASED KMB AND CONSIDERATION OF RISK PERCEPTION FOR EFFECTIVE UPTAKE
    2. 2. OUTLINE • Context • Research objectives • What I did (methodology) • What I learned from the research • Why this is important for Knowledge Mobilization
    3. 3. CONTEXT
    4. 4. KINCARDINE, ON
    6. 6. PICKERING AND BRUCE RESTART • 1997, 7 reactors in Ontario shut down (NAOP) • 1997 new legislation Nuclear Safety and Control Act, replaces Atomic Energy Control Act/AECB and enacted CNSC (CEAA) which required EA • 2005 Bruce A 1&2 returned to service (a few years prior, Pickering A Unit 4 2001-03, then Unit 1, not 2&3)
    7. 7. RE-LICENSING PROCESS (STEPS) 1) NGS submits LOI & project description to CNSC 2) CNSC issues Draft EA guidelines 3) EA guidelines subject to public review 4) CNSC commission hearing on EA guidelines 5) CNSC issues final EA guidelines 6) NGS submits draft EA study to CNSC 7) NGS submits final EA study report to CNSC 8) CNSC issues draft screening report for public review 9) CNSC commission hearing on screening report 10) CNSC commission decision
    9. 9. OBJECTIVES 1) To explore the importance of individual knowledge about risks 2) To investigate the manner in which information is exchanged and utilized 3) To explore the relationship between the public and the decision-making institutions which are entrusted with making decisions about risk
    10. 10. How can the current stakeholder consultation processes for decision making involving risks to public safety be improved?
    11. 11. METHODOLOGY
    13. 13. WHAT I LEARNED
    14. 14. GLOBAL SYSTEM
    16. 16. LOCAL SYSTEM
    17. 17. RELATIONSHIP MODEL FOR STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT & KE Poetz, A. (2012) “Risk is a social thing, not just a mathematical thing” a model for stakeholder engagement in decision-making. Risk, Hazards and Crisis in Public Policy. Vol.3, Iss.2, Art.4:
    18. 18. TYPES OF RISK PERCEPTIONS • Technical • Environmental • Political • Financial • Security
    20. 20. KNOWLEDGE USE FOR DM • Industry preferred to conduct their own ongoing scientific analyses (context specific, security risks) • Academic studies not used because not context- specific, not relevant for EA (specific requirements) • Answer to shareholders (it’s a business)
    21. 21. WHAT I LEARNED… • Important to understand perception of risk for all stakeholders (not just the public) • Fluid process, and always changing depending on contingencies (external events that affect the system) • Good/trusting relationships, including transparency (where appropriate) is key • KEY: facilitated in-person consultations (semi-formal) • Build relationships before you need them, maintain them after (return to community to explain decision) so they will be there when you need them again
    22. 22. HOW DOES THIS TRANSLATE TO OTHER CONTEXTS • “invisible barriers” to uptake can include risk perceptions • Wrong/inadequate information being provided for uptake info needs to be tailored to needs of audience (policy, practice, public) • Seek out areas of misunderstanding and clarify before conflict occurs (def’n transparency, Fed vs Prov EA, roles) • Realize the information needed, the risk perceptions that might be a barrier to uptake, and roles of ppl, change as events/contingencies happen and impact the ‘system’
    23. 23. REMEMBER… Things constantly change: • Relationships • The system • Information needs • Risk perceptions
    24. 24. QUESTIONS? Anneliese Poetz, PhD “All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions” - Leonardo da Vinci “Risk is a social thing, not just a mathematical thing” a model for stakeholder engagement in decision-making: A systems-view of decision-making for risky technologies: from global to local and local to global: What’s your “position” on nuclear power? An exploration of conflict in stakeholder participation for decision-making about risky technologies:
    32. 32. FOR INDUSTRY: • Clearly explain mandates, processes and roles beforehand (including def’n of transparency) • Opportunities throughout and beyond decision-making processes be made available for informal, mediated discussions • Go back and explain the decision afterwards • More emphasis on relationship management (communication and conflict resolution, “attitudes”)
    33. 33. APPLICATION OF RELATIONSHIP MODEL • On-site academics to conduct environmental studies • Dependent upon relationship (trust/security clearance) • Arms-length/objective (off-site) vs. on-site ‘biased’ • Ongoing stakeholder consultation, before, during and after EA