A knowledge gap exists in terms of how public, private, community and educational institutions can best co-design, pilot and continuously deploy support-system infrastructures that allow a diverse range of stakeholders, including citizens, to co-create solutions to societal challenges. Using an agricultural and natural resource management lens, such support systems need to respect the importance of enabling parallel collaborations in both face-to-face and online environments.
The claim that such a knowledge gap exists is premised on the basis that there lacks clarity about an appropriate role for government in this era of cultural and technological change. Clearly most public sector agencies can benefit from the deployment of support-system infrastructures that create the conditions within which high value and trusted collaborations can emerge in sustainable ways including where appropriate, drawing in subject matter experts from across different jurisdictions. However, the challenge of delivering on this public sector imperative is compounded by the need to facilitate a “culture of evidence informed decision making” at a range of different levels, not just at government levels and the reality that various types of evidence can evolve at different rates over time.
Within an agricultural research, development and extension context, managing the cultural change of shared and open data can be described as a combined “system stewardship” and “innovation systems” challenge. System stewardship and innovation systems thinking by their very nature are “knowledge intensive” in that these include the processes of collaboratively “identifying problems” with citizens and / or other stakeholders. There is also a need to consider how knowledge, as solutions to problems, is acquired and used to design and monitor the impact of public investments in R, D and E activities. There is necessarily a digital dimension to this and thus there is a need to create the conditions within which new capabilities such as the following can emerge:
- new ways of collaborating in online environments via communities of interest, communities of practice, and learning networks;
- facilitating investments into value chains to realise new market development opportunities and to capitalise on free trade agreement opportunities.
- contemporary consulting and value adding services incorporating public-private collaborations;
- “small and big data”; and “open data” etc.
Specific case studies of public sector knowledge management in Victorian and Australian agricultural initiatives will be presented at the Data Management, Sharing & Publishing conference to draw out conclusions associated with the need to:
- Link people and systems based capability development;
- Continuously advocate for the benefits of outcomes in terms of changing systems and operations;
- Encouraging all stakeholders including public sector employees to embrace new ways of working and collaborating in these transitional times.
The audience will be invited to consider that developing the governance scaffolds associated with this challenge in this era of shared and open data will take time and is likely to rely on representatives of the public sector to deepen their commitments to public service and innovation, perhaps in slightly different ways than has been the case in the past.
Richard Vines will be speaking on ‘Managing the Cultural Change of Shared & Open Data’ at the Data Management, Sharing & Publishing Conference this March. Book your place by February 5th to save $100.