Knowledge management across the environment-policy interface in China: What knowledge is exchanged, why, and how is this undertaken?


Zheng Y, Naylor LA, Waldron S & Oliver DM (2019) Knowledge management across the environment-policy interface in China: What knowledge is exchanged, why, and how is this undertaken?. Environmental Science & Policy, 92, pp. 66-75.

Global to local environmental policy-making is increasingly evidenced-based. Knowledge management (KM) is increasingly used by environmental scientists and policymakers, to deliver evidence-based policy and practice. There is thus an urgent need to identify whether and how knowledge is exchanged between knowledge producers and users in environmental science fields. Here we apply an assessment framework developed in social medicine to identify what forms of environmental knowledge are exchanged, and why and how they are exchanged. We focussed on China, as international research to better manage Chinese ecosystem services is rapidly-increasing, yet, how to best integrate this into political decision-making and the public realm remains a challenge. How KM is practiced in China is unknown. We addressed this through: 1) a systematic analysis of published KM research in China compared to global trends; 2) evaluating KM for environmental policy and management in China; 3) quantitative surveys of Chinese (n = 72) and British (n = 16) scientists researching Chinese environmental problems. The systematic literature review of two databases identified two key findings. One, of 291 papers that considered KM there were no papers in the environmental sector examining the science-policy-practice interface in China. Two, only 13 of 423 potentially relevant papers explicitly examined KM for environmental topics, notably for agriculture and information exchange (the 'What?'). Most papers reported a one-way interaction between scientists and users (the 'How?'), used to change practice (the 'Why?'). Our survey showed significantly-less awareness and use of two-way knowledge exchange (KE) methods by Chinese scientists. The paucity of documented KM research and limited evidence for two-way interaction show KE at the environmental science-policy-practice interface in China is limited. Promotion of KE practice may benefit environmental policy-making in China. We have also shown that conceptual frameworks for mapping and assessing KE practice from social medicine can be usefully adapted for examining environmental science – policy interfaces.

Geography, Planning and Development; Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Environmental Science & Policy: Volume 92

FundersNatural Environment Research Council
Publication date28/02/2019
Publication date online26/11/2018
Date accepted by journal29/09/2018
PublisherElsevier BV