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Why Knowledge Brokering is not about Comms

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How knowledge brokering and knowledge brokers are misunderstood and how to ensure you get the full potential from this role

The Problem – Viewing Knowledge Brokers or Knowledge Brokering as a Comms role

One of the biggest gripes we hear from people who are knowledge brokers, or see in job descriptions for these or equivalent roles is the assumption that a knowledge broker or knowledge brokering is a comms based role.  It is not.

The Consequence of viewing Knowledge Brokers or Knowledge Brokering as a Comms role

There are many consequences when employers and colleagues view knowledge brokers of knowledge brokering within their organisation as a comms role, but the main ones are:

Knowledge Brokers and Knowledge Brokering are viewed as an afterthought

Brokers are viewed as an afterthought (i.e, we produce the knowledge and the knowledge broker shares that knowledge) when they should be viewed as part of the whole development process.  A broker if undertaking their role correctly should have a very good understanding of your stakeholders needs meaning they can support organisational strategy, organisational project development and grant developments.

They are viewed as only brokering knowledge ‘out’ not bringing knowledge ‘in’

In line with the previous point a brokers ability to establish collaboration or bring in new knowledge is completely overlooked and undervalued.  Knowledge brokering is based on two way knowledge exchange meaning they should also be able to bring knowledge ‘in’ to the organisation not only broker your knowledge ‘out’ of the organisation.

Knowledge brokers have a lot of their time wasted causing inefficiencies

A knowledge brokers time is spent on managing comms pathways when that time could be better spent brokering knowledge and partnerships with key collaborators and stakeholders for creativity, innovation and system improvement and impact.

So what exactly is Knowledge Brokering

  • It is the strategic transfer, exchange and co-production of knowledge, research and ideas between two or more parties.
  • It identifies how knowledge, research and ideas from one domain can be of value in another domain, in other words how is it learned and re-learned.
  • It brings people together from different contexts and professions.
  • It explores how knowledge, research and ideas can be shared.
  • It transfers, exchanges and co-produces knowledge between producers and users.

What is distinct about knowledge brokering?

  • It is ‘facilitated’.
  • It promotes links between industries, disciplines and individuals.
  • It develops connections and collaborations.
  • It’s about building relationships and networks focusing on the form, format and length of the relationship.
  • It is interactive, collaborative and cooperative.
  • It includes knowledge transfer activities.
  • It is context-specific and fluid.
  • It occurs two ways and is co-produced.
  • It has a ‘clear purpose’ or ‘outcome’ attached to it.
  • It needs to move knowledge into action.

What are Knowledge-brokering pathways?

Knowledge brokering links can take many forms. It can be between:

  • research and policy
  • research and practice
  • research and industry
  • research and research
  • industry and community
  • policy and industry
  • industry and practice
  • community and community
  • community and practice
  • policy and practice
  • policy and policy
  • research and community
  • practice and practice
  • industry and industry
  • policy and community

What is the purpose of knowledge brokering?

  • To improve the uptake of research, knowledge and ideas in policy and practice.
  • To drive innovation.
  • To effect change.