Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Knowledge Hypocrites: Take Two!

A recent controversial blog that has been getting much attention is by York University’s David Phipps of ResearchImpact – titled Knowledge Hypocrites. In it Phipps makes the pointed claim that “We are all knowledge hypocrites.”

Phipps includes himself when he states that “neither researchers nor knowledge brokers practice what we preach.” Phipps concludes that “until researchers receive time and incentives for making their research broadly accessible and knowledge brokers receive time and incentives for accessing that research we shall remain hypocritical. Well-meaning indeed, but hypocritical. The system won’t change overnight but it won’t change at all if we don’t start to seek out KMb/KT researcher/practitioner collaborations.”

Well-said! Although I am not a researcher or a knowledge broker (although I have been called a theoretical knowledge broker) my holistic approach to Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) has always attempted to promote greater social collaboration across knowledge sectors to include community voices of knowledge. I believe all of us have knowledge from our life experiences to share for greater social benefit – not just within academic or more formal research institutions – to influence decision/policy makers to make the world a better place. Isn’t making the world a better place the most important incentive? Only when all knowledge voices are given an opportunity to speak for benefit can hypocrisy ever end. Knowledge brokers can provide those links across knowledge sectors for social benefit as I have shown in the following diagram.

A hypocrite is defined as a person who professes certain ideals – but fails to live up to them.

Ideals are all about making things better – but ideals are also something that remain just out of reach, waiting to be turned into reality. So how do we turn ideals into reality? For starters we need to continue to break down barriers and preconceived notions or beliefs. That’s what David Phipps is calling us to do – especially researchers and knowledge brokers who are considered the “experts” in knowledge.

It’s been said that a cup is useful only when it’s empty – a mind that is filled with rigid beliefs or dogmas is really a closed and hypocritical mind.

How many of us have missed wonderful opportunities for learning and sharing knowledge because of preconceived notions or beliefs that we’ve adopted from others because we thought we were “right”? How many times have we rejected people who might have been great knowledge sources because they believed something that we didn’t believe, or didn’t believe what I believed? I have mentioned in my previous blog that there are many “truths”.  What is most important is being open to and sharing knowledge regardless of how “truth” is perceived.  What is most important is creating new knowledge – combining knowledge from many knowledge sectors – for social benefit.

I’ll take Phipps’ challenge even further beyond just researcher/ practitioner collaborations to include all social collaborations that include knowledge voices beyond an institutional capacity. As Phipps says, “the system won’t change overnight but it won’t change at all if we don’t start to seek out…collaborations” – even in unexpected places within various community knowledge sectors. Only then, when we break down these barriers – and the ideal can be turned into reality to make the world a better place – will we no longer be knowledge hypocrites.

4 responses to “Knowledge Hypocrites: Take Two!

  1. researchimpact February 4, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Thanks for the shout out, KMbeing. Whether we are meeting in a research collaboration or in a social interaction we have lots of opportunities to share and make the world a better place. Although “better” is subjective and socially constructed, but we’ll go with this as a goal and seek out opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaboration to make us “better” brokers and better individuals.

    • KMbeing February 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      I really enjoyed your latest blog David and feel you addressed a critical problem within KMb if knowledge brokers, practicitioners and anyone sharing knowledge do not just “talk the talk” but also “walk the walk”.

      I agree with you that “better” is subjective, but from a personal perspective when we can make our own knowledge circles more collaborative and engage with others with integrity to find understanding, I believe we begin to make the world a better place. I appreciate your comment.

  2. Cameron D. Norman February 4, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Fantastic post. Part of the problem is not just one of integrity and fit between values and beliefs and practices, but also a system that allows these hypocrisies to flourish. Our language sounds so great, but in practice is largely devoid of meaning. When we speak of relationships in our work and the need to build them it sounds great, until we realize that relationships take time to form, lead to disagreement, hurt feelings, changes in expectations, and so on. Building “communities of practice” sound fabulous, until you realize that communities require nurturing, policing, support, have cliques, take time, and are made up of relationships (see previous comment). Suddenly, putting CoP down as a strategy isn’t so great…unless you don’t actually create a community.

    You and David have hit this on the head. Until our systems are changed — from the top and bottom — we will have difficulty. The only hope for change is persistence, coordination and setting exemplars for living our values and continuing to point out that the emperor has no clothes when he doesn’t, and when he does.

    I’ve added a further two cents on my blog by re-blogging this great piece:

    • KMbeing February 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks for your comment Cameron. As I mentioned on your great blog site, I appreciate the acknowledgement, and emphasize that good communication is the key – but it’s not always easy (as you also point out). Good communication is sometimes (often more than not) a challenge with many barriers. To overcome these challenges we must have personal integrity with a desire to communicate and break down barriers to create understanding with anyone we come in contact with.

      As you also point out, the term “communities of practice” is often thrown around so often withhout really understanding what it is that we want to accomplish within “communities of practice”. At the heart of knowledge mobilization is the hope for social benefit; on a smaller scale for communities of practice – on a larger scale to make the world a better place.

      Until we can appreciate the more holistic idea of “communities of practice” that embraces the many peoples, cultures and values that sometimes don’t match our own but still provide channels to communicate understanding across communities of practice, there is little hope for creating new knowledge and change.

      Thanks again.

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