Crossing boundaries: complex systems, transdisciplinarity and applied impact agendas

David Simon, Friedrich Schiemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper highlights the challenges of distilling generalizable principles and guidelines for sustainable co-management arrangements and demonstrating the practical impact of the underlying research. We explore the complexities of multi-country, socio-ecological research and address the challenges of moving beyond pure research to engage with the science-policy-practice interfaces. Growing demand for such applied research by official funding agencies is linked to the requirements of policy relevance and ‘research impact’. Successful applied research requires ongoing user engagement throughout a project, which is often hard to achieve, especially when diverse stakeholders have sharply different power, knowledge and interests. The arguments are exemplified by our personal experience on such a complex project. Clear impact agendas could be useful for strengthening efforts to achieve transdisciplinarity but research applications should not be penalised on account of inherent potential uncertainties and risks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-11
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Early online date28 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • transdisciplinarity
  • sustainability science
  • research impact agendas

Cite this