Employing Cybernetics in Social Ecological Systems Research

Transforming Experience of Land Users into Information for Scientists
Chapter

Abstract

Innovation processes in land-use systems require land-users to change their management actions. Understanding land-users’ management actions requires understanding of how land-users regulate their system i.e. how they achieve what they want to achieve. Their management is based on their experience, which remains usually hidden to scientists, as it is usually not explained (made explicit) to third parties, either due to the lack of necessity within the production process, or, because the underlying knowledge / experience is implicit and insufficiently formalised to make it explicit. In this chapter we will present a methodology based on second-order cybernetics to model land users’ regulation of the production process and thereby transform their experience and their underlying knowledge into information for science.

Using this methodology permits to identify the observations, which landusers make when controlling the production process. Hence it enables learning about different aspects and characteristics of the respective controlled processes of production systems, and about the production environment that matter – i.e. are decisive for the land-users actions. Beyond this, the methodology also permits identifying the rules behind land users’ actions, which reveals cause-effect relations and points at characteristics of the production environment, which a) have shaped the system (restrictions), and b) are considered as problems (disturbances) by the land users. Once transformed into information, land-users’ experience can be used in knowledge integration processes, as employed in transdisciplinary research, where the different system views of different stakeholders such as e.g. scientists and practitioners are combined to develop innovations that fit into the system. This is much needed in the design of development projects.

Keywords

Knowledge Analysis Knowledge Management Transdisciplinary Research Co-learning Low-external-input Systems 

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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deutsches Institut für Tropische und Subtropische Landwirtschaft GmbHWitzenhausenDeutschland

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