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Enabling Effective Participation, Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Advocacy in Participatory Research: Tools and approaches for Extension Professionals

Greg Leach and Jessica Wallwork

Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and Coastal Zone Estuaries and Waterways Cooperative Research Centre. Indooroopilly Science Precinct, Natural Resource Sciences, Block A 80 Meiers Rd, Indooroopilly, Qld, 4068. Email:
Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines, and Coastal Zone Estuaries and Waterways Cooperative Research Centre Indooroopilly Science Precinct, Natural Resource Sciences, Block A 80 Meiers Rd, Indooroopilly, Qld, 4068. Email:


The Decision Frameworks Theme in the Coastal Cooperative Research Centre coordinated a review of participatory research in the collaborative partnership from 2000 to 2003. Inquiry processes through this period revealed that the majority of researchers and stakeholders in the Coastal CRC are supportive of increased participation in research activities. In spite of this there are a wide range of understandings and applications of participatory research practice by researchers and stakeholders in CRC research. A key recommendation from this review is that extension specialists with skills in facilitation, relationship development, negotiation and framing be employed to improve (a) research team learning-negotiating processes to better identify and enable effective participation of researchers and stakeholders in Coastal CRC research; (b) facilitation of team based decision-making and research; (c) provide professional support for relationships (particularly those where conflicting paradigms and/or personalities prove to be significant barriers to effective participatory research); and (d) advocate participatory research outcomes to external stakeholders and clients. The review also identified key motivations for participatory research in the Coastal CRC, namely; institutional, community, academic, self and team motivations. Extension specialists will use social and people processes and skills to enable researchers and stakeholders alike to capture and build on these motivations and negotiate a working agreement (and definition) of effective participatory research in the Coastal CRC. In doing this they will optimise participatory research in the Coastal CRC, as well as facilitating the application of adaptive management principles in second round projects - a participatory, negotiated, learning approach to research in the Coastal Zone.

Media Summary

Extension skills and professionals have a key role in facilitating learning, negotiation, framing and advocacy for enabling better participatory research in CRC collaborative arrangements.

Key Words

Facilitate, Negotiate, Conflict, Framing, Participatory Research


The Coastal Cooperative Research Centre (Coastal CRC) is founded on the premise that participation in research is essential for meeting the needs of end users whilst ensuring the ecosystem health of Australia’s coastal zones, estuaries and waterways. To increase the participation component within the Coastal CRC, a project - ‘Enhancing the Participatory Component of the Coastal CRC’- was initiated during the first project funding round. The aim of this project was to investigate the external participation component of the Coastal CRC and to facilitate broader participation throughout the research cycle.

Findings from this project indicated some key factors that could influence the success of participation in Coastal CRC research. These factors were the motivations of individuals and project teams and participating institutions, organisations, stakeholders and communities involved in Coastal CRC research. Due to these findings the authors propose that extension specialists with skills in facilitation, relationship development and negotiation be employed within agencies such as the Coastal CRC. The use of extension skills and/or specialists will help meet the challenges of facilitating and negotiating participatory, multi discipline and multi stakeholder research projects.

The first section of this paper will provide the context and background of participation in the Coastal CRC focussing on the challenges faced by researchers in coordinating participatory and multi disciplined research projects. Building on this, the next section will progress the authors recommendation of employing extension skills and professionals in the Coastal CRC. This argument will be explored by drawing upon current negotiation, participation and extension literature to provide the reader (and the extension specialist ) with concepts, skills and tools. The authors believe these skills are necessary for organising and facilitating research projects within collaborative research arrangements (such as the Coastal CRC). The final section will then take these concepts and tools and apply them specifically to the Coastal CRC case study.

The Context – The complexities of multi stakeholder and multi discipline research

Stakeholder and community participation in research is a concept that is strongly embraced by many Cooperative Research Centres. The Cooperative Research Centre program was launched in May 1990 and was established to strengthen collaborative links between industry, research organisations, educational institutions and government agencies (Cooperative Research Centres 2003). The Coastal CRC is an environmental and public good CRC that is not driven by commercial imperatives, but is focussed on bridging “the gaps between science and the community and between science decision making, policy and planning for the coastal zone”. To achieve this the Coastal CRC identified the need for:

  • Cross-disciplinary teams with interactive participation within an ecological framework of source to sea;
  • Adopting the principles of adaptive management and sustainability science wherever possible;
  • Using time bound, partnership projects involving stakeholders to deliver relevant outputs and adoptable outcomes; and
  • Integrating knowledge into accessible, understandable, relevant and concise knowledge for direct application to coastal zone issues and actions.

During 1999, a series of Coastal CRC projects were developed within five research themes that were closely interwoven to ensure that each aspect of the research could be delivered in an integrated manner. In particular, two of the themes – Decisions Frameworks and Citizen Science and Education – led the participatory component of Coastal CRC research.

Within the Decisions Framework Theme, the ‘Enhancing the Participatory Component of the Coastal CRC’ project was designed with the specific objective to deliver an enhanced participatory process and support staff to use participatory methods in decision-making. By virtue of its project classification it became known as DF2. The project was conducted over a period of 3 years, between 2000 – 2003 and used a variety of qualitative and action research methods and techniques to inquire into how staff, researchers and stakeholders understand perceive and practice participatory research within the Coastal CRC. Key findings from this research revealed that:

  • most researchers support a greater involvement by community and industry groups in their projects;
  • participatory research means different things to different people;
  • the rhetoric of participatory research in project proposals does not always produce projects that are participatory in nature;
  • researchers who actively involve stakeholders in their projects are self motivated to do this anyway;
  • motivation by individuals, teams, organisations and stakeholders are important factors that influence the success of participatory research (please see Figure 2 below); and
  • convergent interviewing (face to face contact) is a more effective way to survey people’s attitudes than a web-based questionnaire.

These results highlight tensions between the CRC mandate of cross-disciplinary teams with interactive participation and the diverse and inconsistent understandings, motivations and practice of ‘participatory research’ by researchers and research teams. A further complication is the mismatch between researchers’ expressed enthusiasm for participatory research and the (large) inconsistencies in how they actually practice it.

In light of these tensions the authors were prompted to explore ways in which individual researchers and research teams within the CRC could collectively reach a higher level of consistency and improvement in participatory research practice. The authors believed this might be achieved through organising participatory learning and negotiation processes to deal with individual and team ‘conflicts’ of interpretation and application of ‘participatory practice’.

A further review of current literature also identified reframing as a concept that might add value to these processes and negotiations. Another discovery was that there are in fact proposed frameworks in which to operate for facilitating transformative learning and negotiation processes. These concepts and skills are further explored in the following sections.

Identifying the Role of Extension in Participatory Research

Given that the Coastal CRC has over 200 participating researchers, often in multiple research teams, the process of organising, facilitating and supporting such a transformative process is going to be a considerable undertaking. In light of their backgrounds and linkages with ‘extension’ history and current practices (Agricultural Extension Greg Leach and the developing NRM Extension Jessica Wallwork), the authors propose that extension practitioners could have a role to play in assisting these transformative processes. This argument is further supported in the current literature.

The ‘extension’ discipline has long-term origins in advancing and disseminating information and research in the natural resource management and agricultural fields with early records dating back as far as 1800 BC in Mesopotamia. The actual use of the word ‘extension’ became common at the interface of university and community development in England during the early 1800’s. The movement was driven by universities such as Oxford and Cambridge in an endeavor to address the educational needs of the rapidly growing populations in the industrial and urban areas and it was this early relationship that developed the ‘transferring and adoption of technology’ trademark role of extension. (Food and Agriculture Organization 1997)

Over the last decade or so, the relationship and roles of extension and research have been undergoing processes of re-negotiation (Coutts, J. 2000). Bennett et al (2001) see that moves are necessary for building stronger linkages between research and extension to accelerate the development and application of cost-effective, knowledge, technologies, and practices. They propose that research and extension “can increase their separate and collective rates of return through strengthening linkages with each other” (Bennett, C. 2001). Stronger and more adaptable linkages will mitigate the risk of fragmentation between research organisations, extension or advisory agencies, government departments and public and private agencies (Black, A, in Coutts, J et al. 2001)

Leeuwis and Van den Ban (2003) present a suite of theoretical and practical reasons why extension needs to widen and adapt its long term mission and strengthen its relationship with other stakeholders in supporting the achievement of societal goals such as ecological sustainability. They see extension moving, among other things, to: “bringing about new patterns of coordination (i.e. innovations) through the facilitation of learning and negotiation processes.” A direct implication of this is that extension needs to target process management as an important organisational task and role in interactive knowledge development, research and innovation activities.

Rling (2002), a long-term academic in the extension discipline, places purposeful human interaction and participation for sustainable natural resource management (such as extension, and research in the Coastal CRC for that matter) in an ideological frame. He (Rling 2002) sees that we need new understandings of collective human behaviour beyond the current emergence of individualism and maximum utility. This behaviour recognises the fact that for sustainable futures we are necessarily interdependent. Interdependence fundamentally requires institutions to be built on reciprocity and trust, and is facilitated through effective processes of conflict resolution, management of social dilemmas, negotiated agreement and social learning (Rling, 2002).

Ideologically Rling (2002) applauds research efforts aiming toward sustainable futures. However he sees the task being to move from current realities typified by humans (researchers) who are "strategic and selfish promoters of their own interests….to explore conditions and opportunities for collective action…and design social (research) processes" that enable effective interaction (Rling, 2002). Following this ideology, participatory research (a human activity and behaviour system) in the Coastal CRC needs to continue its move away from the celebration of 'individual' achievement, strategic agendas and the promotion of separate disciplinary interests. Effective participatory research in the CRC must emerge from 'effective interaction'.

It can be concluded that there are strong practical, theoretical and ideological arguments for the use of extension professionals and/or extension skills and processes to support learning, negotiation and innovation in complex multi-stakeholder activities, such as participatory research in the Coastal CRC. To provide more weight to this argument, Aarts (2001) suggests some roles that extension professionals may play in process management and the new participatory project which include:

  • organising, temporising and synchronising the process;
  • facilitating negotiations between stakeholders and their constituencies;
  • creating constructive relationships;
  • making explicit the implicit (tacit) knowledge of stakeholders; and
  • guarding the equilibrium between making choices and gathering knowledge.

In building upon this, the following section will outline some extension methodologies and tools that will support improvement of CRC researchers’ participatory research approaches and skills.

Enhancing Participatory Research using extension processes, approaches and skills

The extension methodologies, tools and frameworks discussed in this section could be used to facilitate effective learning, negotiation and ultimately innovation through new and more effective patterns of coordination and action. Learning, for enabling critical reflection on participatory practice within research teams, and Negotiation for facilitating and enabling the transformations needed to move away from intractable differences of opinion and understanding.


The authors believe that participatory practice in the Coastal CRC will be enhanced through researchers and stakeholders alike, taking explicit actions to actually learn about participatory research. Dick (1997) identifies action learning as a process in which a group of people come together more or less regularly to help each other to learn from their experience. This process has been mostly used across different organisations for individuals to come together in a group to focus on their individual problems in their respectively different work activities. Dick (1997) observes that it is optional whether or not a facilitator is used to coordinate and propel the learning groups but that experience has informed the current practice of including a process management facilitator in all group meetings.

Spence (1998) provides that Action Learning enables participants to solve long-standing problems that could not be solved by simple training, and concurrently develop their leadership abilities. The process empowers participants by encouraging them to take charge of their own problems (Mumford 1991 in Spence 1998). Spence (1998) also sees that transfer of learning is improved with Action Learning as participants are able to immediately apply their learnings to practice. Examples of how Action Learning has helped facilitate teamwork are presented in Spence (1998) and include advances in personal development, increased productivity, and increased effectiveness.

Chris Argyris (1994) maintains that genuine learning in organizations is inhibited by a universal phenomenon he calls organizational defensive routines. He identifies that organisational policies, practices, and actions are often put forward by staff as a shield to prevent them from having to experience embarrassment or threat for something they have been responsible for. He (Argyris, 1994) warns though that this prevents them from examining the very nature and causes of these embarrassments or threats.

Following on from this he observes that staff "design their behaviour in order to remain in unilateral control, to maximize winning and minimize losing, to suppress negative feelings, and to be as rational as possible" (Argyris, 1994). He (Argyris, 1994) extrapolates that staff lay out their own clear-cut goals and evaluate their own behaviour against these. The key motivation and purpose for this is to avoid the appearance of incompetence, embarrassment, risk, and vulnerability. Argyris (1994) believes this to be a very common defensive strategy taken by professionals that is unfortunately a recipe for ineffective learning, or in fact antilearning. It enables staff to avoid reflecting on the counterproductive consequences of their own behavior (Argyris, 1994). In order to address this issue Argyris (1994) recommends a double-loop learning approach where employees take an active role in drawing out the truth about their own behavior, motivation, roles, responsibilities, and potential contributions to corrective action, as well as describing the faults of others. (Argyris, 1994)

Building on the above insights the authors believe that in order to improve researchers' approach to using participatory practices in their research projects, it will be essential for process management professionals to facilitate action learning (within a wider negotiation and framing process - see below) in the Coastal CRC. This could take the four 'moment' cyclic approach offered by Zuber-Skerritt and Farquhar (2002);

1. Planning critically informed action to improve what is already happening.

2. Acting to implement the plan.

3. Observing the effects of critically informed action in the context in which it occurs.

4. Reflecting on these effects as a basis for further planning, critically informed action and so on, through a succession of cycles.


Leeuwis (2000) observed that social learning models (such as the action learning processes described in the previous section) see cognitive change as the prime prerequisite for behavioural change and conflict resolution. Participatory methodologies are mainly geared towards changing cognition, assuming that this will lead to changes in social practice. (Leeuwis, 2000) Participatory and interactive processes are portrayed in conventional literature as approaches to overcoming differences and conflicts through social learning as a basis for decision-making. The assumption is that the participation of all relevant stakeholders in this learning process will enable the resolution of conflicting interests through the construction of a shared understanding (Leeuwis and Van den Ban, 2003).

Leeuwis and Van den Ban (2003) have witnessed a large range of projects and studies that resulted in quite disappointing results however, when organised along the lines of 'learning and cognition leading to change'. They assert that these 'poor' outcomes from well-intentioned and supported participatory innovation processes, are a result of inaction and inability of participants to resolve and productively use conflicts of interest that tend to emerge in interactive processes. They also observed that different participants in interactive processes (such as participatory -farmer- research activities) were unable and/or unwilling to take other participants viewpoints seriously. They therefore conclude that "effective social learning is unlikely to happen if it is not embedded in a well 'managed' negotiation process …. And at the same time, effective negotiation is impossible without a properly facilitated social learning process" (Leeuwis and Van den Ban, 2003).

This link between learning and negotiation has been also observed by Further Borrini-Feyerabend et al. (2000) who note that many institutional actors may have difficulties in getting their claims heard and therefore conflicts of interest between institutional actors are inevitable. They found that in dealing with conflicts between institutional actors it is essential that all institutional actors need to take a mature, non-paternalist and non-ethnocentric attitude, and acknowledge the legitimacy of values, interests and opinions different from their own. Their (Borrini-Feyerabend et al. 2000) suggestion is that the best approach for managing negotiations among institutional actors is one of learning by doing (adaptive management).

Extensionists Facilitating Learning-Negotiation Methodologies and Processes

Leeuwis (2000) suggests that the role of the facilitator (extensionist) in participatory processes can be organized along the lines of a negotiation process, in which special attention is paid to the facilitation of joint learning. In many cases, there will in fact be multiple parallel learning and negotiation trajectories taking place at more or less the same time (Leeuwis 2000). This role would be considerably different from the role of the facilitator presented in traditional participation and extension literature i.e. a facilitator that is portrayed to be a fairly neutral figure whose prime concern is to enhance communication and learning. However, in a context of negotiation it becomes more evident that a facilitator needs to have an active strategy, resources and a power-base in order to forge sustainable agreements (Leeuwis 2000).

Negotiation literature points to four key approaches to negotiation; distributive, integrative, accommodative and avoidance (Lewicki, 2001; Fisher and Ury, 1981). The relationship between intentional outcomes of opponents and effective negotiation approaches is shown in Figure 1. Avoiding and accommodating modes of negotiation may be useful for strategic reasons of maintaining the status quo, or in fact regressing, however with the substantive issue at stake being to enable and improve participation in the Coastal CRC, we are dealing with competing (distributive) and collaborating (integrative) modes.

Figure 1: Negotiation Modes (adapted from Lewicki, 2001; Fisher and Ury, 1981)

In distributive negotiations Leeuwis (2003) maintains that stakeholders make claims and compete to ''divide the cake'' and in so doing tend to hold their own positions and essentially learn very little. Aarts (1998 in Leeuwis, 2003) also notes that whether the end point results in one party winning and one party losing, or some type of compromise, the ''source'' of the conflict remains intact. The ultimate outcome is unstable at best!

Integrative negotiations on the other hand enable stakeholders to develop new or at least partly shared problem definitions and cognition as part of a creative learning process according to Leeuwis (2003). These negotiation processes are thereby more likely to enable learning and transformation of practice into something new or different, and intentionally more effective. Therefore we shall concentrate on the facilitation of integrative negotiations to improve participatory research in the Coastal CRC.

In terms of facilitating integrative negotiations Lewicki (2001) provides the following overview of important key strategies and tactics:

1. Creating a free flow of information

2. Attempting to understand the other negotiators real needs and objectives

3. Emphasising the commonalities between parties and minimising the differences

4. Searching for solutions that meet the goals and objectives of different sides

Lewicki (2001) also recommends the following key targets for facilitating successful Integrative Negotiations:

1. Some common objective or goal – a goal that all parties share equally

2. Faith in ones own problem solving ability

3. A belief in the validity of one’s own position and in the other’s perspective

4. The motivation and commitment to work together

5. Trust

6. Clear and accurate information

7. An understanding of the dynamics of integrative negotiations

Further to Lewicki’s (2001) recommendations, Cees Leeuwis suggests a methodological framework (see table 1) for facilitating integrative negotiations that consists of seven tasks or steps that could be used as a template for researchers when designing and implementing their research project. This framework identifies the need for a initial preparation period to identify any possible conflicts, problems, relations, practices when selecting particpants and securing particpation of stakeholders etc. It suggests that process design and process protocal should be agreed upon by all involved, early in the project. Further that time should also be set aside for group formation and contextualising of the issues. Other stages include joint fact-finding, forging agreement and monitoring and evaluation.

Table 1. Leeuwis methodological framework for facilitating integrative negotiations

Task 1: Preparation

  • exploratory analysis of conflicts, problems, relations, practices, etc. in
    - historical perspective;
    - selecting participants;
    - securing participation by stakeholders;
    - establishing relations with the wider policy environment

Task 2: Agreeing upon a process design and process protocol

  • creating an agreed-upon code of conduct and provisional agenda;
  • reaching agreement about procedures, methodologies, etc.;
  • process management and maintenance of process agreements;
  • securing new process agreements as the process unfolds.

Task 3: Joint exploration and situation analysis

  • group formation;
  • exchanging perspectives, interests, goals;
  • analysing problems and interrelations;
  • integration of visions into new problem definitions;
  • preliminary identification of alternative solutions and `win-win' strategies;
  • identification of gaps in knowledge and insight.

Task 4: Joint fact-finding

  • developing and implementing action-plans to fill knowledge gaps.

Task 5: Forging agreement

  • manoeuvre: clarifying positions, making claims, use of pressure to secure concessions, create and resolve impasses;
  • securing agreement on a coherent package of measures and action plans.

Task 6: Communication of representatives with constituencies

  • transferring the learning process;
  • `ratification' of agreement by constituencies.

Task 7: Monitoring implementation

  • implementing the agreements made;
  • monitoring progress;
  • creating contexts of re-negotiation.

Leeuwis (2001) and Leeuwis and Van den Ban (2003)

The authors conclude that negotiation is a useful 'wider' activity for enabling cognitive, behaviour and practice change in how participatory research is practiced in the Coastal CRC. The literature reviewed targets large multi-stakeholder complex negotiation processes, and research processes within the Coastal CRC may initially not seem related. The authors contend however that the inter-disciplinary (and potentially trans-disciplinary) research processes in the CRC constitute complex (multiple paradigms) and multi-stakeholder (researcher, stakeholder, industry and community representative) negotiations. These negotiations would be best to occur in groups and research teams (or combinations thereof) and would be a logical and potentially more effective and efficient (financially) option.

It is also concluded that that learning (or action learning as mentioned above) is necessarily a micro-process within the above framework, such that action learning will propel the achievement of each negotiation task. A key example of this might be an action learning deconstruction of relevant case studies that exemplify effective participatory research in the joint fact-finding Task 4 (see table1 above).

Framing and Re-Framing

Lewicki et al (2003) suggests that the process of framing offers a powerful means of explaining the positions and strategies that people take in different social and professional interactions. A 'frame' is a (mental) construction that represents our interpretation of the world around us, and framing is the process that leads to this (Lewicki et al 2003). When we sort and categorise an experience and weigh new information and learnings against our stock of interpretations or frames, we are then better able to locate ourselves with respect to this experience. Thereby our interpretation of what is going on and how we see others and ourselves implicated by events is reflected in a frame. "When we frame something, we put it into perspective by relating it to other information that we already know"(Lewicki et al 2003)

Framing is a very useful hermeneutic tool, when it comes to interpreting and working with conflict, particularly in intractable long-term disputes in areas like natural resource management conflicts. In framing a conflict we each develop interpretations about why the conflict is occurring, what it is actually about, what drives the different parties involved in the dispute and how the differences should be resolved. The way in which we frame a conflict is a construction based on our position in the dispute; whether we are an observer, a supporter of someone in the disagreement, or actually in the midst of it.

Re-framing is the transformational process where one or more parties in a dispute actually change their frames - they develop new ways of understanding and interpreting either their own perception of the 'ssue', another party's view or the issue at stake. This then leads to resolution of the issue at hand. Lewicki et al (2003) go further to recommend a number of approaches and strategies for enabling re-framing, and consequent movement to resolution. They do however intimate that in this new approach to conceptualising and working with natural resource conflict there is still much to be done in terms of re-contextualising and facilitating re-framing interventions in different cultural, institutional and governance arrangements.

The authors suggest that framing and re-framing can provide a good conceptual focus for the negotiation methodology Leeuwis (2003) proposes whereby frames that emerge in this learning-negotiation process can be built on at each stage. It will be essential for Coastal CRC Researchers to explicitly identify and portray their own individual frames in order to re-frame how they conceive of and understand participatory research, and indeed change the behaviour and practices they (unwittingly) defend.

Motivations - A Key Support to Framing, Negotiation and Learning

A key finding from the DF2 project (Leach and Wallwork 2003) was that a number of key motivators can be recognised in the Coastal CRC for the use (or non-use) of participatory approaches in research activities. The authors grouped motivations on the basis of different social categories; individual motivation; team motivation, academic motivation; institutional motivation and community/stakeholder motivation. These are illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2: A Mindmap identifying motivations for Participatory Research in the Coastal CRC

The authors propose that motivations in these social categories form a useful structure on which to identify frames, as part of the learning and negotiation of more effective participatory research in the Coastal CRC. Or in other words, if framing (or ultimately re-framing) is an overarching methodology for enhancing participatory research in the Coastal CRC, the contributing activity will be 'facilitated negotiation'. This is in turn supported by action learning activities that -among other things- identify and build on motivations in researchers, stakeholders and community representatives.

The activities outlined below will be a valuable complement to the negotiation necessary for changing mental models and ultimately behaviours in the quest for enhanced participatory research in the Coastal CRC. Activities at the Individual level will support the 'Preparation Stage' suggested by Leeuwis (2001, 2003). These will identify why individuals want to be involved in Coastal CRC research and how they feel about engaging with stakeholders to fulfil the Coastal CRC vision of bridging the gaps between science, the community and policy making. In doing this it may be possible to identify where the individual might best sit with regards to the organisation's goals and which team they are best suited to. Extension professionals have process management skills to organise and facilitate this.

Attempts to enable Team motivations may take on many different aspects and can build upon each individual's motivations. Extension professionals could use a variety of tools to support individuals desire to be involved in transdisciplinary research teams, to explore available funding for a project, and ultimately to secure collective time & resources to carry out a project. Other roles that the extension specialist may play in enabling Team motivations would include the planning, implementation and advocacy of research outcomes, and assisting with communication and conflict resolution within the team and project stakeholders.

Likewise, Extensionists may also support Community Stakeholder motivations for involvement in, or oversight of, participatory research activities by ensuring that they have an understanding of and are invited to participate in research activities. Institutional motivations can also be further enhanced for participatory research, albeit at a higher level of social aggregation. Suggested activities for extensionists to organise and facilitate such processes are outlined in Table 2.

Table 2. Activities for Enabling Motivations for Participatory Research – Roles and Activities for Extension Professionals

Type of Motivation

Action Learning (and Negotiation) Activities


  • Profiling values, beliefs, paradigms and strategic agendas (i.e. why are you involved in Coastal CRC research)
  • Belbin team roles
  • Meirs Briggs
  • SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
  • Developing the Individual Frame for Participatory Research

Note: these activities can take a Human Resource Development focus and they can be confidential/elective


  • Team building techniques, facilitation group dynamics skills
  • Communication skills/approaches
  • Conflict management approaches/tools
  • Visioning
  • Mapping out team roles and responsibilities
  • Negotiation of effective participation processes for the team
  • Developing the Team Frame for Participatory Research


  • SWOT of corporate values and aims
  • Organisational learning/decision making
  • Documenting intentionality to undertake PR – rhetoric vs. reality
  • Advocacy role across institutions
  • Developing the Institutional Frame for Participatory Research

Community Stakeholder

  • Identify roles and responsibilities, agreement of involvement actions
  • Negotiating effective participation of community stakeholders in CRC research
  • Advocacy role before, during and after Coastal CRC projects/processes
  • Developing the Community Stakeholder(s) Frame for Participatory Research


  • Outside of Project scope

Reflections and Recommendations - Enhancing the Participatory Component of the CRC through extension specialists/skills

The ‘Enhancing the Participation Component of the Coastal CRC’ project surfaced a number of challenges and barriers to enabling effective participatory research in the Coastal CRC, including a fundamental issue of divergent and different expressed understandings and practices of participatory research. This process of inquiry has bought about increased discussion in how to enhance participatory research in the CRC and the process of developing the second round of research projects reflected this. In light of the findings from this project the authors have suggested that the employment of extension specialists/skills are needed within Coastal CRC research to enable broader researcher, stakeholder and community participation in this second round of CRC research activities, and beyond.

The authors have built upon this argument by providing the extension specialist with an array of concepts skills and tools thought necessary to facilitate this complex multi discipline, multi stakeholder research. These skills included learning, negotiation, relationship development and reframing. Moreover the authors have identified four key roles for extension specialists/skills in Coastal CRC research building on the identified extension methodologies, frameworks and tools outlined above, and the findings from the DF2 project. These roles are:

1. Facilitating research team negotiating (and inherent learning) processes to better identify and enable effective participation of researchers and stakeholders in Coastal CRC research;

2. Facilitating team based learning, decision-making, negotiation and conflict resolution for/in research;

3. Providing professional support for relationships (particularly those where conflicting paradigms and/or personalities prove to be significant barriers to effective participatory research);

And in line with the traditional roles of extension

4. Advocating participatory research outcomes to external stakeholders and clients.

Coastal CRC researchers, stakeholders and community representatives, through involvement in targeted processes of learning, negotiation and re-framing of interpretations and understandings of the nature and practice of participatory research, will transform the way that research is undertaken in the coastal zone. It will enable many to build on, and in some cases move beyond the practices that have (defensibly) developed through a variety of educational and professional histories and backgrounds.

A key activity that will help these negotiation processes, is the further identification and development of key motivations of different actors involved in Coastal CRC research. They appear to play a key role in defining the success of participatory research in CRC projects. These motivations are those of the individual, the team, the institution and/or organisation and the stakeholder and community. Understanding the values behind these particular motivations, will help frame individual, team, institutional, stakeholder and community motives and interpretations when negotiating effective participatory research.

The authors propose that the above approaches to learning, negotiation and indeed re-framing need to be included in a continuation or adaptation of the ‘Enhancing the Participatory Component of the Coastal CRC’ (DF2) project mentioned above. In accord with this, resources should be directed toward the employment of extension professionals and/or extension skills to facilitate further applied 'action research' in the delivery of this project.


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