Knowledge exchange and adoption to enable safer post-disaster self-recovery

E. Hendriks, Laurens Luyten, Charles Parrack

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Despite extensive knowledge on disaster risk reduction and knowledge transfer studies since the 1970s in management and classroom situations,, the adoption of knowledge to reconstruct more hazard-resistant housing after a natural disaster is still rare in self-recovery processes. Approximately 85% of the disaster affected populations recover without humanitarian or governmental shelter assistance. Hazard-resistant construction guidelines are infrequently applied, and new insights from scientific research rarely lead to changes in policy and practice. As a result, disaster affected populations remain vulnerable in case of recurring disasters. The focus of this study is where and why the exchange of knowledge and adoption of knowledge fails in the self-recovery process.

The literature presents causes for the rejection of knowledge as the lack of institutional structures and communicating science, and proposes to engage both ends of the producer-user spectrum in a dialogue to negotiate a consensual view of what is feasible and desirable. Currently, governmental and humanitarian organisations involved in recovery aid have difficulty designing communicative interactions effectively in communities using and diffusing hazard-resistant construction guidelines. To reach and support the 85% in self-recovery processes, there is a need to develop an adequate understanding of how knowledge exchange and adoption in such interactions can be more effective.

To address this challenge we propose an analytical framework to evaluate knowledge transfer interventions in self-recovery processes as they. Current knowledge interactions in post-disaster recovery are examined and critically analysed using existing knowledge exchange literature. The framework intends to highlight barriers and failure mechanisms that may hamper the knowledge adoption. This analysis provides proposals based on logic to overcome these obstacles; lifting barriers, strengthening trust, matching need and knowledge and reducing risk of adoption failure. The value of these proposals need to be verified in field research. In line with the proposals a second framework is proposed, that enables the analysis of knowledge exchange interventions, as knowledge exchange is essential for adoption.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalIDRIM Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • knowledge exchange, science-policy gap, self-recovery, knowledge adoption, disaster risk reduction, community resilience.


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