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Understanding mechanisms of conflict resolution beyond collaboration: an interdisciplinary typology of knowledge types and their integration in practice

Journal article
Authors Olga Stepanova
Merritt Polk
Hannah Saldert
Published in Sustainability Science
Pages 1-17
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Global Studies, Human Ecology
School of Global Studies
Pages 1-17
Language en
Keywords Conflict resolution; Knowledge integration; Urban planning; Natural resource management; Transdisciplinary research; Interdisciplinary
Subject categories Sociology, Other Social Sciences


Conflicts over land use and their resolution are one of the core challenges in reaching sustainable development today. The aim of this paper is to better understand the mechanisms that underlie conflict resolution. To do so we focus on the use and integration of different knowledge types for conflict resolution in three fields: natural resource management, transdisciplinary research and urban planning. We seek to understand what role different types of knowledge have in the different examples and contexts given. How is knowledge conceptualized and defined? How is it used and integrated to resolve conflicts? These questions are answered through a thematic review of the literature and a discussion of the different knowledge typologies from the respective research fields. We compare conflict resolution approaches and, as a synthesis, present an interdisciplinary knowledge typology for conflict resolution. We find that knowledge use centered approaches are seen as facilitating a common understanding of a problem and creating a necessary base for more productive collaboration across disciplines. However, it is often unclear what knowledge means in the studies analyzed. More attention to the role that different knowledge types have in conflict resolution is needed in order to shed more light on the possible shortcomings of the resolution processes. This might serve as a base to improve conflict resolution towards more lasting, long-term oriented and therefore more sustainable solutions. We conclude that the three literatures inform and enrich each other across disciplinary boundaries and can be used to develop more refined approaches to understanding knowledge use in conflict analysis and resolution.

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