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Communication barriers to applying federal research in support of land management in the United States


Wright, Vita. 2007. Communication barriers to applying federal research in support of land management in the United States. In: Miner, Cynthia; Jacobs, Ruth; Dykstra, Dennis; Bittner, Becky, eds. 2006. Proceedings: international conference on transfer of forest science knowledge and technology. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-726. Portland, OR: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. p. 55-62

Barriers to effective communication between researchers and managers can ultimately result in barriers to the application of scientific knowledge and technology for land management. Both individual and organizational barriers are important in terms of how they affect the first three stages of the innovation-decision process: 1) knowledge, where an individual is exposed to innovation and develops an understanding of how it works; 2) evaluation, where an individual evaluates advantages and disadvantages and forms a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward innovation; and 3) decision, where an individual engages in activities that lead to a choice to either adopt or reject the innovation. The communication studies discipline provides insight into potential influences to the communication and use of research results by federal land managers. Effective communication refers to the development of a common understanding between the research communicator and the manager/practitioner about both the existence and utility of an innovation. Communication research reveals that people frequently report leaving the same encounter with different perceptions of that encounter. So, it is not surprising that a scientist presents results in what s/he perceives to be clear terms and then the land manager returns to his/her daily tasks with a modified perspective of what the scientist intended to communicate, with continued uncertainty, and/or lack of interest that lead to passive rejection of innovations. By understanding contextual influences to communication within target audiences, research communicators may be able to plan for and minimize potential causes of misunderstanding within different target management audiences. Recognizing that science delivery and application approaches are often developed on an ad hoc basis, this paper emphasizes the need to understand specific influences to the communication process within these audiences. Understanding influences to communication within target audiences will help applied researchers, research application specialists, and upper-level managers prioritize limited delivery and application resources and increase the likelihood that these efforts result in application.

Keywords: innovation-decision, science communication, research application, diffusion


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Communication barriers to applying federal research in support of land management in the United States
Electronic Publish Date: December 19, 2007
Last Update:
December 19, 2007

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