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Cooperation without Consensus: Brokering Resiliency with Boundary Objects

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  • 1 a Department of Geography, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey
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Abstract

This paper presents a case study of how boundary objects were deployed to support a collaborative knowledge production process that resulted in the creation of climate change knowledge usable to municipal governments in the New Jersey shore region. In doing so, a case is made that boundary objects are useful throughout the collaborative process in overcoming ambiguity and disagreement. This points to boundary objects possessing a wider array of capabilities than is frequently theorized in the climate policy literature. Effectively designing and using boundary objects, however, requires carefully considering how they interface and interact with one another.

Significance Statement

This article contributes to a number of ongoing developments in the scientific literature on this topic. First, it provides an empirical (i.e., hands-on experience) account of how boundary objects (i.e., tools that allow different communities of practice to collaborate without precise agreement about the goals and purpose of working together) are used to create usable information. While boundary objects are frequently called for in the literature, there still remain few empirical examples. Second, the article argues that boundary objects provide a wider range of capabilities than is typically theorized in the climate change policy literature, which tends to focus on how boundary objects can help during the actual moments of collaboration between different communities of practice. Third, the article should be of value to practitioners and decision-makers in a wide range of geographical and political contexts beyond the New Jersey shore region who want to generate and apply usable climate change information.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: David C. Eisenhauer, dce31@rutgers.edu

Abstract

This paper presents a case study of how boundary objects were deployed to support a collaborative knowledge production process that resulted in the creation of climate change knowledge usable to municipal governments in the New Jersey shore region. In doing so, a case is made that boundary objects are useful throughout the collaborative process in overcoming ambiguity and disagreement. This points to boundary objects possessing a wider array of capabilities than is frequently theorized in the climate policy literature. Effectively designing and using boundary objects, however, requires carefully considering how they interface and interact with one another.

Significance Statement

This article contributes to a number of ongoing developments in the scientific literature on this topic. First, it provides an empirical (i.e., hands-on experience) account of how boundary objects (i.e., tools that allow different communities of practice to collaborate without precise agreement about the goals and purpose of working together) are used to create usable information. While boundary objects are frequently called for in the literature, there still remain few empirical examples. Second, the article argues that boundary objects provide a wider range of capabilities than is typically theorized in the climate change policy literature, which tends to focus on how boundary objects can help during the actual moments of collaboration between different communities of practice. Third, the article should be of value to practitioners and decision-makers in a wide range of geographical and political contexts beyond the New Jersey shore region who want to generate and apply usable climate change information.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: David C. Eisenhauer, dce31@rutgers.edu
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