When Coproduction Is Unproductive; Comment on “Experience of Health Leadership in Partnering with University-Based Researchers in Canada: A Call to ‘Re-Imagine’ Research”

Document Type: Commentary

Author

Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Abstract

Bowen et al offer a sobering look at the reality of research partnerships from the decision-maker perspective. Health leaders who had actively engaged in such partnerships continued to describe research as irrelevant and unhelpful – just the problem that partnered research was intended to solve. This commentary further examines the many barriers that impede researchers from meeting decision-makers’ knowledge needs, and decision-makers from using knowledge that they have coproduced. It argues that not all barriers can or should be dismantled: some are legitimate and beneficial; some are harmful but deeply entrenched; some arise unpredictably. This being the case, it seems unrealistic to expect either existing or emerging strategies to create a macro-context devoid of barriers to the fruitful coproduction of knowledge. However, it may be possible to identify and support micro-contexts (configurations of participants, settings, and project characteristics) in which partnered research is most likely to achieve its aims.

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