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Expectations and Challenges in International and Interdisciplinary Projects. Examples from TRANSCAPACITY application work Britt-Marie Drottz Sjøberg NTNU , [email protected] Presentation at the ”European Secure and Safe Smart Cities 2020” workshop in Helsinki, Finland. June 16, 2014.

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Expectations and Challenges

in International and Interdisciplinary Projects. Examples from TRANSCAPACITY application work

Britt-Marie DrottzSjøberg

NTNU, [email protected]

Presentation at the ”European Secure and Safe Smart Cities 2020”

workshop in Helsinki, Finland. June 16, 2014

Name, title of the presentation

my background examples of projec ts
My background: Examples of Projects
  • Nature - environment
    • Perceptions & feelings to nature and environment (NV)
    • Reactions to pollution, contaminated land (NV)
  • Technological systems and processes
    • Blind people reading digital newspapers
    • Accidents, workplace HES (NFR)
    • Nuclear safety; municipalities (NKS; SSI)
    • Nuclear waste management (EC:ARGONA;

EC:CARGO; SKB: Social Science Programme)

  • Psychological and social phenomena
    • Reactions to radioactive fallout (EC:JSP2)
    • Crime, violence (AMFO)
    • Time perception (SSI)
    • Pandemic H1N1 (EC)
personal experiences of interdisciplinary international research work
Personal experiencesof interdisciplinary & international research work
  • Nobody speaks the same language
    • Due to mistakenly taking for granted that others have the same background, experience, and information
  • Focus on different research themes
    • From interesting to irritating

to incomprehensible

  • Misunderstandings are common, but not always detected
    • Understanding that one does not understand is much preferable to not realizing that one hasn’t got a clue about what was said
  • In spite of everyone’s very good intentions, these sometimes pave the road to disaster
    • Unintentionally our expectations are based on success criteria from the own point of view
  • Attention to social and cultural factors is necessary for successful projects
    • Requires interest in others work and opinion
    • High degree of patience because it slows down work
    • There is sometimes a need to explicitely discuss expectations, goals and standards
Goals;TRANSCAPACITYapplication Transboundary Resilience and Capacity-Building: Nordic Societal Security

Researchers End-users

Larger Society

Specific research tasks


Nordic Centre of Excellence

Societal Security

Documentation of challenges

Exchange of experience

Trans-national issues;

Authorities, companies, citizens, international organisations

transcapacity expectations in the call
Transcapacity; Expectations in the call

Thematic framework. This call aims to:

- Address common Nordic societal security issues.

- Mobilise and qualify researchers for participation in EU Security research in Horizon 2020.

  • Due to increasing complexity and globalisation, new challenges are emerging regarding societal security issues. Research on societal security has developed differently in the Nordic countries.
  • Societal security comprises the ability of a society to sustain vital societal functions and secure populations\' life, health, needs and basic values under extraordinary stresses, known as crises.
  • The proposal for a Nordic Centre of Excellence should address one or, preferably, more issues related to the following aspects of societal security:

- Prevention

- Capacity-building for response and recovery

- Communication

- Learning

transcapacity expectations in the call1
Transcapacity; Expectations in the call
  • The applications should:
  • employ a multidisciplinary approach and focus on cross-sectoral and transboundary issues and consequences for the Nordic countries, of generic significance for societal security.
  • Topics can be examined in various empirical domains, to which expert knowledge and contextual aspects may be added.
  • Traditional but still important domains include the societal effects of the vulnerabilities in interdependent critical infrastructures and critical societal functions.
  • Examinations of new stressors to these systems and functions may be appropriate for a resilience management approach.
transcapacity expectations in the call2
Transcapacity; Expectations in the call

The Nordic Centre of Excellence should have

  • the potential to address the challenges of managing the unexpected and the unknown.
  • The difficult but increasingly widely embraced concept of \'resilience\' may capture the essence of what is required to meet the grand challenges relating to societal security in the future.
  • Research is needed on the various components of the concept of resilience in a human, socio-technical, societal, organisational, political and transnational context.
transcapacity 3 legs

6 WPs

International research teams & organisations connections

Partners in municipalities and business

National authorities

AIM: Prevention and Management of Major Hazardous Events in Society

(caused by technology, humans or weather)



Civic society

Existing and new:



Open courses and training

Dissemination: Open Conferences & Seminars

Attachment to International risk, safety and crisis organisations



In Sweden; Connect to

”Åre Risk Event”


In Denmark


In Jyväskylä


in Iceland

Nordic Societal Security Conference Trondheim

Deliverables: WP articles; Chapters in Edited Volume

Final reports


Work teams

EUROFORM meeting

Connect to Norway ”Sikkerhetsdagene”

EUROFORM meeting

Connect to Helsinki, Living lab

EUROFORM meeting

Connect to Sweden: Radiological seminar

EUROFORM meeting

Connect to Iceland

Risk Analysis

EUROFORM meeting

Connect to Denmark


Reports Euroforum & Annual Reports

transcapacity challenges
Transcapacity: Challenges

Groups of experts


Bridging gaps between

Different types of experts

Communication & dissemination standards

Country & organisational norms/cultures

Making sense of & handling disparate inputs and outputs in practice

Within the cooperation

Relative NordForsk/ NCoE

Developing a shared overview

Where various contributions fit the common goals

  • Research groups
  • End-user groups
  • Commercial interests/ Businesses
  • NGOs & Supporting organisations
transcapacity challenges1
Transcapacity: Challenges

Various Realities


Very different:

Types of work and goals


Timeframes for work production

Expectations of results

Use of results

Personal styles


Similar interest in exchange of information and experience to increase societal safety

  • End-users
  • Researchers
  • Businesses
  • NGOs, International organisations
central challenges in research
Central challenges in research




Private business and


Other governmental

affiliated research


societal challenges
Societal challenges

Trust and Seeds of Dystopia

Disparities & Social dilemmas

Expectancies vs. Realities

Hidden, Implicit & Active threats

Complexity & Scale of (potential) problems

  • Complexity and Uncertainty
  • Connectivity
  • Nations and Governance systems
  • Benefit to whom and risk to whom
  • Matter and Mind
  • The hard world
    • Existing and emerging technologies
  • The soft world
    • Citizens, consumers, individuals
  • The surrounding world
    • Natural environment; group identities
  • A globalworld?
    • Fact, risk or possibility?
    • Future relevance?
    • Comprehension?
technology has developed faster than theory dekker 2011
“Technology has developed faster than theory” (Dekker, 2011)
  • Complexity lies ahead of our understanding of it
  • We can build and manage technology – in an isolated system
  • But,
    • Competition
    • Internal relationships multiple possible outcomes
    • Internal dependencies
  • We lack explicit or well-developed theories for how such complexity develops – and can be managed
different prerequisites for safety
Different Prerequisites for Safety?

In Technology

In Social Contexts

Managed by removal of obstacles and hindrances through



Lock-out systems

  • Managed by obstacles and hindrances through
    • Buffers
    • Conservative estimates
    • Back-up systems

Common Factors for Management

Knowledge, Skill, Resources, Planning, Willingness and Ability to act

experiences from transcapacity
Σ Experiences from Transcapacity
  • Escalation of interest approaching deadline
  • Every ”group” wants to pursue their own field and interest – a challenge to relate the own contribution to a larger (and still not well-defined) picture
  • Free-riders and non-attendants
  • Personal styles vary: can be interesting, supportive, relaxed, overwhelming, timid, irritating, funny, etc.
experiences from transcapacity1
Σ Experiences from Transcapacity



Many facets of:

Unfamiliarity ->

Uncertainty ->


  • Seeing the necessity of cooperation for increased societal resilience
  • Organisation
    • Clarify common goals and specific contributions
    • Clarify budget use and supplement the financing
    • Organise for personal exchanges across groups
  • Communication
    • Underline personal communication
    • Communicate a lot
    • Always be prepared to explain what you see as obvious
  • Contents
    • Leave experts to do their work and focus on finding, and steering, the contributions into the common goal arena
  • Interdisciplinary projects across national borders ought to be approached as exotic foreign countries
    • With care and careful planning
    • As interesting but potentially bewildering
    • Exposing you to a new ”language” and
    • Unexpected surprises
    • They probe into new frameworks laying the basis for new knowledge and practice – providing patience
    • Extremely rewarding if keeping up with the challenges