Navigating the stormy seas of building ‘trust’ as a boundary organisation connecting marine science with policy and management

C. Cvitanovic*, R.J. Shellock, D.B. Karcher, P. Tuohy, M. Mackay, E.I. van Putten, Marta Ballesteros, M. Dickey-Collas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


Improving knowledge exchange among scientists and decision-makers is a critical component of navigating ocean sustainability challenges. Boundary organisations are one approach to facilitating knowledge exchange and influencing marine policy and management. However, to effectively do so, boundary organisations must navigate various challenges that can undermine the extent to which they are considered as trusted by partners. At present, there is a lack of specific guidance on how boundary organisations can navigate these challenges and build trust. We seek to address this gap empirically via in-depth qualitative analysis, using the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) as a case study. Through interviews with requesters of ICES advice (i.e. the users of the knowledge), we sought to understand (i) the benefits that requesters derived from working with ICES and (ii) the factors that can affect the extent to which requesters trust the advice generated and provided by ICES. Our results show that requesters gain numerous benefits from requesting advice from ICES (e.g., being able to rely on an independent scientific body, receiving best available scientific evidence, and being engaged in processes which enable sharing of expertise and scientific knowledge). We also identified factors that contribute to increased trust in ICES (e.g., ICES processes, good relationships between requesters and ICES, and the requester's ability to understand ICES advice). Conversely, trust in ICES was negatively affected when there was a production of poor-quality advice, a lack of transparency, and when ICES advice went beyond its original remit. In presenting these insights from ICES, this study provides guidance for organisations operating at the interface of marine science and policy and helps them to navigate the stormy seas associated with maintaining trust.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106952
JournalOcean and Coastal Management
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Trust
  • Boundary organisation
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Policy advice
  • Science-policy


Dive into the research topics of 'Navigating the stormy seas of building ‘trust’ as a boundary organisation connecting marine science with policy and management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this