Improving knowledge exchange from research to urban sustainability
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This thesis explores knowledge exchange (KE) practices used by researchers and practitioners in the urban environment, aimed at improving urban sustainability. Using qualitative research methods and the case study approach, the research investigates the historical case of implementation of the Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) in Scotland, in order to illustrate practitioners-led KE. Furthermore, it analyses four case studies from the EPSRC-funded Sustainable Urban Environments Programme, in order to illustrate KE from the perspective of research. To assess how KE practices’ impact on urban sustainability can be improved, the thesis develops two new frameworks: (i) the Engagement Benefits Framework, assessing KE features associated with impactful collaborations; and (ii) the KE Impact Assessment Framework, assessing scattered impacts on complex environments, such as urban sustainability. The analysis of data using both frameworks resulted in the identification of four engagement models: ‘consultancy’, ‘co-production’, ‘advisory’ and ‘dissemination’ models. The ‘co-production’ and ‘advisory’ models display the most of engagement benefits. They also score highest on the KE Impact Assessment Framework. It is therefore concluded that knowledge exchange characterised by engagement benefits can achieve better impacts on complex environments. The KE Impact Assessment Framework represents a static record of impacts achieved without recourse to information about causal relationships between them. To reflect the long-term process of alignment and change in the built environment illustrated by the SUDS case study, the assessment would need to be repeated. Lastly, KE’s most essential outcome is the built capacity of practitioners, which enables them to contextualise and utilise the knowledge beyond the project and to reflect the changing requirements of sustainability transitions.