Knowledge sharing and change across networks within the context of climate change adaptation


  • Andrew Clappison
  • Pete Cranston
  • John Rowley
  • Megan Lloyd-Laney


knowledge sharing, communities, networks, literature review, climate change, ICTs, KM4Dev


Networks are dependent on both human and non-human (e.g. geographical and technological) actors. They are underpinned and shaped by context, culture of practice, and relationships of power between different individuals. These influence not only shape networks, but the actors across it. Networks are defined by their ‘organisation’, their ‘rules’ and level of ‘interdependence’ of the actors along them. The social interactions between actors are a key function in the process of knowledge sharing and the nature of these relationships. If these relationships are unstable or incentives for engagement are removed networks can easily dissolve. Communities play an important role in ‘brokering’ knowledge on climate change adaptation, by developing their own approaches to coping with climate variability that work with local contexts, rather than simply applying knowledge developed elsewhere. Intermediaries or knowledge brokers have a key role to play across knowledge networks in understanding these different contexts. In this sense, it always remains crucial that information is tailored specifically to different audience needs. Evidence suggests that ‘directed’ networks do not always take account of real and articulated needs of individuals. This can restrict knowledge exchange, and have a negative effect on participation across the network. Knowledge sharing tools and methods play a critical role in ensuring knowledge travels across networks. But as with other processes, the tools used should always be framed by its context, and perceived barriers. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are an increasingly important tool for knowledge sharing, with great potential, for facilitation. They can enhance communication, the quality of interaction between actors across networks, which can in turn help its development and effectiveness. Nevertheless, if these technologies are inappropriate or out of context, instead of facilitating interaction, they can be a great impediment to everyday relationships and network practices. A body of theory and practice has emerged over the past 10 years on the interaction between online tools and networking. The most effective knowledge sharing networks use a multiplicity of tools, responding to their users and the social dynamic of the community. Change and action is much more likely in such instances, although no one network or the relationships that sustain it are the same.

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