Mapping knowledge exchange in the UK hedgerow management system


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Mapping knowledge exchange in the UK
hedgerow management system

A Report on a Workshop held at Hedgerow Futures:
the first
onal Hedgelink conference.

Staffordshire University, Stoke
rent, UK. 3
5th September 2012

Sue Oreszczyn
and Andy Lane

The Open University, Walton, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

December 2012



This short report
provides an account of

a workshop held as part of
a conference

Futures, held at Staffordshire University in September 2012. The workshop captured the thinking
of 37 conference participants on knowledge exchange in hedgerow management systems.
owledge flows and exchanges between producers, brokers and users of knowledge were
mapped by the participants. These maps and associated discussions provided an overall picture of
the hedgerow system by those actively involved in it. They showed the comple
xity of knowledge
exchanges that occurred and the large number of organisations involved. The workshop found

The weight of the flow of knowledge was from knowledge creators to knowledge users, with
most passing through brokers or intermediaries and l
ittle flowing from users to creators.

The hedgerow management system is fragmented and complex, with users not always.
clear where to go for the knowledge they need.

Knowledge from policymakers to users was not necessarily constructive.

Little knowledge w
as depicted as flowing from farmers to government.

Good quality information was not necessarily flowing from creators to others.

A number of important organisations, such as Defra, NGO’s and charities played more than
one role yet were organisations with
limited resources.

There were a variety of perceptions potentially leading to different assumptions about who
is responsible for what and different expectations about who should be doing something.

Improvements in communication were needed.

The Hedgelink p
artnership plays an important role in communication within the hedgerow
management system but also has limited resources to draw on.

Providing an activity, such as this workshop, offers a way for people to engage with and
learn from one another, in a more
direct way than a conventional conference presentation.


This short report
provides an account of

a workshop held as part of
a conference

Futures, held at Staffordshire University in September 2012 (see Dover, 2012). While
research informed conference presentations by one or more participants may be able to feed into
policymaking in a formal way, as either an oral or written contribution used by policymakers, this
workshop offered an opportunity to capture some
of the wider experience and thinking of many
participants in a less formal but structured way. It also offers a way to feed into policymaking

directly if some participants are also policy makers or when the ‘collective’ results from those

are passed directly to policymakers.

This workshop was born out of current

concern that large bodies of knowledge are generated for
policy use or to improve practices in agricultural and environmental management, yet this
knowledge is not always deemed u
, appropriately communicated
or being used

by the ‘right’
. Equally

changes in organisational structures and responsibilities can lead to fragmentation
of effort
in knowledge creation and exchange
across a large number of
people (Klerkx & Proct
and/or create complex knowledge management challenges for key advisors (RELU, 2011).

a need

for a

better understanding of existing knowledge

actors and their

enable improvements in knowledge flows

(Oreszczyn and
Lane, 20012a).


on a previous workshop conducted by
the authors
that mapped the complex

among knowledge brokers in different contexts

health, food and international
development (Oreszczyn & Lane, 2012
, this

designed to capture and map the
thinking of participants on the key components of a knowledge management system for hedgerows

in the UK
. It sought to identify which people and what types of knowledge are involved in the


various knowledge exchanges and the
nature of the exchanges between those involved.

It also
on our experiences of knowledge exchange process when working with policy
business and NGOs across a number of participatory research projects looking at agricultural
systems (for example
, see

By focusing on
knowledge flows within the existing
hedgerow management system

as seen by the participants
this workshop aimed to consider the imp
lications for managing hedgerows

the future.

Mapping knowledge flows

The workshop had a number of phases. Firstly, using

a blank

template diagram
as indicated by the
example in Appendix

, we asked participants to


people or organisations that a
re currently
seen as knowledge creators, brokers and/or users (some people may do more than one) for
hedgerow managemen
t in the UK. Secondly, we invited

the participants to identify the links and
capture the relationships between these various ‘actors’ and

explore the different forms of
knowledge (in terms of both content and medium used). Thirdly

we invite

participants to indicate
in an ideal world,

where there may be gaps in the system
they had mapped out
where there
needed to be

changing knowledge
practices on the part of some of the actors.

The workshop
lasted for an hour and
37 conference participants working in four groups of
10 people. This constituted a significant number of those people
ng in the

. The maps are designed to serve as a mediating agent to capture some of what
was being discussed in a structured way. As the workshop was timetabled at the end of the first
day we had assumed that only a relatively small number of the conference participa
nts would wish
to participate and there would be only two groups, thus enabling us to sit with them to fully listen to
and document their conversations as they created the maps. In the event we had to forgo
collecting the fine detail of conversations in fa
vour of obtaining more maps, although we did move
separately from group to group to check their progress and answer queries.

Following a short presentation on the aims of the workshop, i.e.
To capture knowledge exchange
taking place in hedgerow managemen
t systems
articipants were
divided into the four groups on
an arbitrary basis and provided with sheets of A2

blank boxes arranged (as in Appendix 1) for
them to collectively fill in with

the knowledge users, the knowledge brokers and the knowledge
as they perceived them
. These basic components of a map were then used to produce
models of knowledge brokering/exchange systems

from their experiences.

Each group ‘elected’ a scribe who often led the discussion as well as writing down th
e thinking of
the group on the sheets of A2 paper. As indicated above, firstly, each group

the key
ople from their perspective. T
n, in discussion with others in their group, added

arrows to map
direction, nature and strength of
The groups were also asked to
consider what key aspects should change when considering the situation at present. At the end of
the session the work of each group was briefly outlined by the authors of this report in a
presentation to the r
est of the participants, along with the group’s leaders providing explanations of
their map.

Knowledge flows and exchanges

This section

discusses in turn the patterns shown in each of the maps drawn by the four different
groups as well as key issues that
were raised by those groups. These interpretations are hindered
to some degree by the fact we are examining the self created record of the discussions without
recourse to our own full record of those discussions.


Group 1

see map in Appendix 2

group’s map shows the NFU, Defra and Hedgelink

as particularly important knowledge
brokers. However, while there is a flow of knowledge from NFU to government researchers and
academia, there does not appear to a flow of knowledge the other way

from know
ledge creators
to the NFU. In contrast, a strong knowledge flow is depicted from researchers directly to
researchers, bypassing all others, presumably indicating that the knowledge remains within that
group. There are also no direct links between researche
rs and users. Farmers appear as key
recipients of knowledge, with particularly strong knowledge flows from the NFU and organisations
such as Defra and Hedgelink. However, little knowledge is depicted as flowing from farmers to
government or any knowledge c
reator through an intermediary except though the NFU. Wildlife
Trusts appear as important brokers for users on the ground as well as being users themselves.
However, there appears little knowledge flow from knowledge creators to wildlife trusts. Unlike
er maps, farmers are not depicted in the role of knowledge creator. Overall the map indicates a
strong flow of information from knowledge creators to users with little knowledge flowing back from
users to creators even through knowledge brokers or intermed
iaries. There is also little knowledge
flowing amongst knowledge creators or amongst knowledge brokers themselves.

The map reflects this group’s discussions around key aspects of the hedgerow management
system that should change. The group felt there was
a need for greater communication between
researchers, policymakers and people on the ground, improved communication with the media,
and that such communication also needed to be more reciprocal. It was thought that better use
could be made of the media and

networks to communicate with the public, and that such
knowledge should be made more widely comprehensible. Knowledge also needed to be made
more relevant for farmers by giving economic reasons for hedgerow management, rather than just
environmental ones.

Better listening to practitioners on the ground and keeping open minds was
also required.

Group 2: see map in appendix 3

This group placed farmers as knowledge creators as well as users, saw a strong link between
farmers and contractors and also brought
in formal education with agricultural colleges as
knowledge brokers. Hedgelink was seen as both a knowledge creator and broker. The map depicts
a strong link between researchers with knowledge flowing through to policymakers as knowledge
users. However, th
e link between farmer organisations and policymakers was viewed as “not
always constructive”. Unlike the other groups, this group had found sufficient time to include the
types of knowledge flow and noted that much of the knowledge flow between knowledge b
and users was face to face, whereas between knowledge creators and brokers more was in written
form. More flows amongst the three categories are depicted, presenting a dispersed and
distributed network of flows, with many connections between categor
ies and Hedgelink attempting
to connect to all.

This group’s map also depicts a predominantly one way flow of knowledge between creators and
users. Knowledge brokers or intermediaries were seen as important for providing good, relevant
information. Yet, t
he group noted that farmers and scientists were often not talking the same
language, scientists were good at products but bad at translating it, while government needed to
be more ‘open’. Further, good quality information was not being provided to farm con
tractors. They
saw a need for improved links between farmers, users and researchers. As farmers tend to listen
to other farmers, more farmer champions and ambassadors and more demonstration farms was
suggested as one solution. Also, it was felt more option
s could be provided for farmers. Hedgelink

, Hedgelink is a partnership that brings together people interested in hedgerows so as to share knowledge and ideas,
and to work with farmers and land mangers to conserve and enhance the UK’s hedgerow heritage. It brings together
expertise and knowledge fr
om England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and has a role in providing advice and
guidance for research priorities and policy on hedgerows. See


was seen as an organisation that, with only modest financial support, could better co
hedgerow knowledge exchange and advice.

Group 3: see map in Appendix 4

For this group farmers and land managers were

also seen as knowledge creators with an
important direct link to other farmers and land managers, bypassing brokers. A key addition in this
group’s map was local authorities, which is depicted alongside policy makers in the broker
category, but also as a
user with a strong link from local authority to local authority. Another strong
link was between researchers and funders. Few links were seen within the categories.

The role of
Hedgelink was viewed differently by this group. While the other groups saw it a
s a knowledge
broker, this group placed them in the knowledge creator category, along with NGOs. In this map,
Defra’s central role appears as a funder

intervening through finance, rather than as a key
knowledge exchange agent. Again, this map shows a gen
eral trend of one way knowledge flow
from creators through brokers to user.

This group particularly expressed their frustration with trying to do things at the local level. It was
noted how “nothing from government gets straight through to local authoriti
es”. No
one was telling
them what to do, leaving people in local authorities feeling “isolated” and with “no back up”. When
considering changes they felt there needed to be more direct links between farmers/land mangers
and researchers and more direct, ope
n access to good quality, peer
reviewed research.
Hedgerows were also viewed in their landscape context. Greater community involvement and
improvements in attitudes towards landscape by both farmers and the public were considered
necessary; while money for

hedgerow conservation could be gained from the landscape itself, for
example, through contributions from people who made a living from it. Trials of cost effective
management for hedgerows were also seen as needed; in this respect business could be involv
for example, through an ‘adopt a hedge’ scheme.

Group 4: see map in A

This group became engrossed in conversation leaving less time for drawing their diagram and
commenting on changes. They depicted more knowledge flowing from users to crea
tors than the
other groups and generally more two way flow of knowledge between categories, although with
less knowledge flowing within categories. The only strong link was depicted between researchers
and funders. Both NGOs and Defra in this map were depi
cted as having multiple roles as users,
brokers and creators. Further, while two of the other maps had viewed Hedgelink as a knowledge
creator, this group viewed them as brokers and knowledge users.

Although this group depicted more two way arrows indicat
ing more feedback links, they still felt
that there was a need for improvements in those links. They felt they should be developed and
made stronger, for example, between research, colleges/advisors and land managers, and saw a
greater role for independent

farm advisors.

Overall observations

Although there were many similarities in the maps, the emphasis on different participants in the
knowledge exchange network in each map varies

reflecting the different interests
and experiences
of the participants at the conference, which

policymakers, researchers and practitioners.
Taken together, the maps, and associated discussion points, provide an overall picture of the
actors and
knowledge flows in the current hedgerow management s
ystem as seen by many of
those actively involved in it.

The maps show the complexity of the knowledge exchanges within the hedgerow management
system. The multiple connections, the variety of roles that some organisations have (e.g. Defra


and NGOs as use
r, broker and creator), the large number of people or organisations involved,
show how dispersed and distributed it is (this is similar to our previous findings (Oreszczyn et al
2012) dealing with networks of practice and webs of influencers involving farm
ers and new
technologies). Generally,
while some knowledge users are recognised as also being important
knowledge creators
, the weight of the flow of knowledge was depicted from knowledge creators
though to knowledge users, with most passing through broker
s or intermediaries. Where the
knowledge did flow back in the other direction, the need was expressed for such links to be
improved and strengthened.

Much less knowledge flowed between creator and creator and
between user and user, and even less was depict
ed as flowing between knowledge brokers or
intermediaries. The group that were able to go the farthest with the activity, and place the types of
interaction on their map, also indicated the importance of the type of knowledge exchange and
how it differed.
Practitioners and brokers exchanged knowledge more on a face to face basis,
while more formal, written knowledge flowed between creators and brokers. This is something that
could be explored further, particularly in light of new, more visual forms of web (
internet) based

While no clear way forward transpired from this short activity, a number of important implications
for policy emerged.

A number of participants reflected on the former role that ADAS served in the
past as the main intermediary for farming knowledge. Currently the situation is far more complex
and fragmented with users unclear where to go for the knowledge they need

hing our
previous research has noted when considering farmers (Oreszczyn et al 2010). Neither is it clear if
that knowledge is being guided by the needs of users. The lack of knowledge flow from users to
creators implies it is not. Further, as shown in tab
le in Appendix 6, a number of organisations were
perceived to have more than one role. Our previous research (Oreszczyn & lane, 2012) noted that
roles can

an organisation’s or person’s

ability to be


intermediaries as it
can dilute

their effectiveness. Research organisations, Defra, NGOs and charities all appear in all
three categories and all have limited funds and stretched capabilities. We have also previously
found (Oreszczyn et al 2012) that a particular individual or group of
individuals in an organisation
can be seen to act differently to how the organisation as a whole is perceived and so influence how
much a knowledge user trusts and acts on the knowledge that is exchanged.

A number of changes were highlighted as ways to
improve on how things are currently done.
Improvements in communication with people on the ground; a greater role for independent
advisors; better use of the media; improvements in the educational role of agricultural colleges;
more government openness to
how things should be done; more effective translation of
researchers’ findings and more farmers talking to farmers, for example, through farmer champions,
were all suggested, although we were unable in the time available to explore the detail of how
changes could be put into practice.

The maps captured the variety of perceptions on who has a role to do what. Such variety will have
an effect on the knowledge flows within the hedgerow management system. It will result in
differences in assumptions abo
ut who is responsible and different expectations about who should
be doing something.

Hedgelink, for example, was perceived to have the ability to play a key role in
facilitating improved links for only modest extra funds. However, not all groups viewed th
eir role in
the same way. While, for some groups, Hedgelink, was a broker and/or user of knowledge, for
others it was as a knowledge creator. This has implications for that organisation’s effectiveness.
Further, that people placed different things in diffe
rent places could also indicate there is a lack of
clarity over the different roles they should or could take, this is particularly likely to occur if roles are
not made explicit, formalised and documented.

Hedgerows are a small component of the landscape

and a small part of landscape and wildlife
management, but a highly conspicuous one. They are different from other wildlife habitats, such as
ponds, as they have legal protection and a strong socio
cultural role as part of our rural landscape
and heritage

(see Oreszczyn & Lane 2000). The Hedgerow Regulations and public perceptions
make them a more visible feature. Thus it is not just hedgerows and their wildlife but their context


that becomes important. While this activity focused on hedgerows, the maps al
so imply there is a
to improve links between farmers, researchers

policy actors and
the public
to foster or
enable improvements in knowledge flows within farm management systems

more generally.

To conclude, the interest shown by the participants at

the conference for what we were attempting
to do far exceeded our expectations. We were only given an hour’s slot at the end of the day, and
the limited time meant that participants were not able to fully complete their maps, yet we were
able in that shor
t time to capture important views and points for policymakers to consider.
Conventional conference formats, where ‘experts’ make their presentations to others, further serve
to convey knowledge in a top down, uni
directional way, and are still the usual wa
y of doing things.
Providing an activity such as this workshop, offers a way for people to engage with one another in
a much more direct way and to learn from one another. Thus, rather than knowledge simply being
transferred from those presenting their ‘ex
pert’ knowledge to others in the audience, participants
may also learn from one another in an interactive way. Capturing some of these interactions in a
formal way (e.g. through a diagram and/or a report) also allows some of the more informal, tacit
dge gained through practice to become formalised and opened up for discussion.

Final Note

The activity was more of an experiment than we had

we had not anticipated
the overwhelming response our workshop would receive

y as it was at the end of a
very full first day. While participants were able to benefit from exchanging their thinking, we as
researchers were unable, to capture all the richness of those conversations. Participant comment
on this workshop report was ther
efore particularly important.

In feedback following the workshop the importance of Hedgelink for communication was
emphasised. The organisation was considered to have been very effective in developing, sharing
and disseminating advice and finding ways of funding and producing communica
tion products, for
example, bringing people together by organising conferences. However, while some administrative
support is provided by Defra, the partnership is finding it increasingly difficult to find the small
amounts of money and staff time needed f
or the basic communication activities that keep the
partnership alive, such as managing their website.

Feedback also commented on the role and importance of farm advisers, agronomists and land
agents for knowledge exchange, because of their relationship
and regular interactions with the
farming community. Further, it was noted that an additional factor affecting knowledge exchange
may come from the recent changes to agri
environment schemes which reduce the point value of
hedge management, sending an impl
icit message to farmers that hedge management is not as
important as other types of environmental management.


Dover, J.W. (ed) 2012 Hedgerow Futures. Proceedings of the first International Hedgelink
conference, Staffordshire University, Stoke
Trent, UK. 3
5th September 2012

Klerkx and Proctor (2013) Beyond fragmentation and disconnect: Networks for knowledge
exchange in the English land management system. Land Use Policy 30,13

Oreszczyn, S. & Lane, A. (2012a) Agri
environmental knowledge management and networks of
practice a background paper. In Dover, J.W. (ed) 2012 Hedgerow Futures. Proceedings of the
first International Hedgelink conference, Staf
fordshire University, Stoke
Trent, UK. 3
September 2012 pp 203

Oreszczyn, S. & Lane, A.

(2012b). Workshop report: The Role of contexts in knowledge
brokering systems. The Open University


Oreszczyn, S and Lane, A. (2000)

The Meaning of Hedgerows in the English Landscape:
Different stakeholder p
erspectives and the implications for future hedge management. Journal
of Environmental Management, 60, 101

Oreszczyn, S., Lane A.B. & Carr, S. (2010). The role of networks of practice and webs of
influencers on farmers’ engagement with and learning ab
out agricultural innovations. Journal of
Rural Studies. 26: 404

RELU (2011). Field advisors as agents of knowledge exchange. Policy and Practice Notes July
2011, RELU, Newcastle University, UK.


Appendix 1


The map indicates the direction of the knowledge exchange using arrows, the strength of exchange by thickness of the arrows,
the nature of
the exchange

e.g. face
face; one
one; printed matter; on
line text; on
line conversation

Note i
f it is a positive or negative exchange; do exchanges bypass some people? Where do the brokers sit in the organisation




Suggesting knowledge gaps






Appendix 2 Group 1’s Knowledge flow map (scribe: Lynn P)


Appendix 3

Group 2’s Knowledge flow map (scribe: Rob Wolton)


Appendix 4

Group 3’s knowledge flow map (scribe: Sarah Facey)


Appendix 5

Group 4’s knowledge flow map (scribe: Emily Leeder)


Appendix 6: Actors and roles

in the UK hedgerow knowledge exchange network

Knowledge Users

Knowledge brokers

Knowledge creators








Agricultural colleges


Institutes eg.CEH



Independent authors and researchers


Independent advisors

Practitioner consultants

Farmers/land managers/landowners


managers/ Practitioners




Volunteers and voluntary

Trusts and wildlife

Volunteers/local biodiversity
partnerships/wildlife trusts/ Charities




Technicians/industry/private sector

ocal authorities

Local authorities

Business/ Developers

Commercial enterprise

Policy makers

Policy makers

Natural England/Scottish National

Statutory agency advisors/ Natural

Local Community/public/society

Local community

NFU/CLA/farmer representatives/

Highways agency