Knowledge Brokering

Knowledge Brokering

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Term2.png Knowledge Brokering
Knowledge brokering occurs when a person or an organisation acts as an intermediary with the aim of helping collaboration between different organisations and sectors to create a sustainable knowledge sharing partnership. It is about bringing people together, to help them build relationships, share information, uncover needs and share ideas and evidence that will permit them to do their jobs better. It is the human force that makes knowledge transfer (the movements of knowledge from one place or group of people to another) more effective.[1]

Whilst Knowledge brokering is used in various fields and can be conceptualised differently, there is an overwhelming indication that a key feature is the facilitation of knowledge exchange between and amongst various stakeholders. In this regard the broker’s main task is to act as a medium through which solid network-building, background knowledge and groups of people or organisations can stimulate knowledge exchange, the development of new research and the interpretation and application of solutions.

Knowledge Brokering Skill Set [2]


1 – Evidence Gathering

Evidence gathering is the collection or finding of any relevant information concerning the particular subject matter. This data collection will be the foundation for all future work. Once completed, the broker should have a comprehensive picture of the challenges that lie ahead, the options that are available and potential partnerships[3] Note: a Knowledge broker may already be a recognised expert in his/her field of expertise and may use his/her past experiences and acquired knowledge as evidence, without needing to conduct extra research.

2 – Appraisal

Once information and knowledge is collected, quality control should be conducted to assess the information’s quality, relevance and applicability to a given situation. Without a good understanding or knowledge of a subject matter, it may be difficult to assess the quality of the information obtained. With a solid background in the subject matter and evidence gathering, the broker will increase the quality of the information on offer.

3 – Mediation

Mediation is the use of diplomacy and team building to guarantee a smooth partnership and collaboration. Mediation is an important skill to have as varying people may have different goals and experiences and do not always work well together.

4 – Communication

This “transfer” of knowledge may accelerate the learning curve if the communication tools used facilitate understanding. Ways in which communication can be improved include simplifying language to the target audience, or improving visualisation of data into something fun to read and almost immediately comprehensible.[4]

5 - Curiosity and Listening

It is highly recommended that listening skills, which is an inherent aspect of communication, be actively used by the broker. Brokers can’t help share ideas or disseminate them if they aren't searching them out from people. Furthermore, listening needs to be continuous as the subject matter is continuously ongoing with new ideas being put forward on a daily basis. This is what differentiates Knowledge brokering from plain journalism or public relations. [5]


Toolkit.png Implementing Knowledge Brokering

These are the following steps to be addressed when knowledge brokering[6]:


1. Knowledge brokering begins with research. Information and data gathering is of the upmost importance for setting up a strong foundation for future work. Key parts of this step include:

  • Gathering information
  • Understanding the difficulties you may encounter whilst engaging in the subject
  • Building a vision of / for the partnership

2. Understand and identify your research audience (users / partners):

  • Consulting with stakeholders and potential external resource providers
  • Partners must be identified, defined and involved in the research process.
    • Who are they?
    • What are their interests and needs?
    • What terms/concepts/language do they understand?
  • Associations, partnerships and networks between researchers and research users are defined and made active to allow access to knowledge and knowledge flow.
  • Agreeing on set goals, objectives and the core principles that will underpin the partnership

3. Plan the transfer of knowledge that will occur between the source and the users:

  • What communication form is best for your audience? (i.e. face to face, social media, policy meetings or journal articles)
  • Plan a programme of activities and begin to outline a coherent project
  • Explore structure and management of partnerships for the medium and long-term

4. If needed, cash and non-cash resources for collaboration between partners (and other supporters) must be identified and mobilized.

5. Implement the pre-agreed planning and management structure:

  • Implementing and putting in place the agreed project details
  • Working to a pre-agree timetable with (if possible) specific deliverables, with a specific focus on user-targeted transfer activities

6. Measure and report the impact and effectiveness of outputs and outcomes against expectations

7. Review and revise the partnership:

  • Review the partnership
    • Involves generally asking if the partnership is achieving its goals?
    • What is the impact of the partnership on partner organisations (people)?
    • Is it time for some partners to leave and / or new partners to join?
  • If needed, revise the partnership, programme(s) or project(s) in light of past experiences

8. Institutionalise or terminate the partnership

  • Build appropriate structures and mechanisms for the partnership to ensure longer-term commitment and continuity
  • Or if needed, agree on an appropriate conclusion

References

  1. CHSRF – The theory and Practice of Knowledge brokering in Canada’s Health System (2003)p.1
  2. CHSRF – The theory and Practice of Knowledge brokering in Canada’s Health System (2003)p.7-9
  3. Tennyson & Wilde (2000) The guiding Hand, United Nations Staff College, p.48
  4. Alessia Messuti - Visualization, reporting through images (14 November 2012)
  5. Emerging Professions: Knowledge Broker (15 November 2012)
  6. Tennyson (2005) the Brokering guidebook, The partnering Initiative, p.58; Knowledge Translation and Transfer Plan (15 November 2012)