Date of this Version
Socio-Ecological Practice Research https://doi.org/10.1007/s42532-022-00132-8
Participatory approaches to science and decision making, including stakeholder engagement, are increasingly common for managing complex socio-ecological challenges in working landscapes. However, critical questions about stakeholder engagement in this space remain. These include normative, political, and ethical questions concerning who participates, who benefits and loses, what good can be accomplished, and for what, whom, and by who. First, opportunities for addressing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion interests through engagement, while implied in key conceptual frameworks, remain underexplored in scholarly work and collaborative practice alike. A second line of inquiry relates to research–practice gaps. While both the practice of doing engagement work and scholarly research on the efficacy of engagement is on the rise, there is little concerted interplay among ‘on-the-ground’ practitioners and scholarly researchers. This means scientific research often misses or ignores insight grounded in practical and experiential knowledge, while practitioners are disconnected from potentially useful scientific research on stakeholder engagement. A third set of questions concerns gaps in empirical understanding of the efficacy of engagement processes and includes inquiry into how different engagement contexts and process features affect a range of behavioral, cognitive, and decision-making outcomes. Because of these gaps, a cohesive and actionable research agenda for stakeholder engagement research and practice in working landscapes remains elusive. In this review article, we present a co-produced research agenda for stakeholder engagement in working landscapes. The co-production process involved professionally facilitated and iterative dialogue among a diverse and international group of over 160 scholars and practitioners through a yearlong virtual workshop series. The resulting research agenda is organized under six cross-cutting themes: (1) Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; (2) Ethics; (3) Research and Practice; (4) Context; (5) Process; and (6) Outcomes and Measurement. This research agenda identifies critical research needs and opportunities relevant for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers alike. We argue that addressing these research opportunities is necessary to advance knowledge and practice of stakeholder engagement and to support more just and effective engagement processes in working landscapes.