University of Oulu

Simo Sarkki, Hannu I Heikkinen, Teresa Komu, Mari Partanen, Karoliina Vanhanen, Élise Lépy, How boundary objects help to perform roles of science arbiter, honest broker, and issue advocate, Science and Public Policy, Volume 47, Issue 2, April 2020, Pages 161–171,

How boundary objects help to perform roles of science arbiter, honest broker, and issue advocate

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Author: Sarkki, Simo1; Heikkinen, Hannu I.2; Komu, Teresa2;
Organizations: 1Vaartoe - Centre for Sami Research, Umeå University, SE-90187, Umeå, Sweden
2Department of Cultural Anthropology, University of Oulu, PO Box 1000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
3The Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, FI-90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oxford University Press, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-01-28


We examine roles and knowledge by which researchers can enhance connections between science, policy, and society. We arranged a participatory scenario workshop with representatives from environmental administration to discuss how different land-use governance arrangements link to sustainability of reindeer herding in northern Finland. We used fast track scenarios as boundary objects that aimed to bring reindeer herders’ problem definitions to be discussed with administrators. First, we performed the role of science arbiter by using our previous research with reindeer herders as the starting point for the discussions. Next, we discussed and elaborated diverse future alternatives via the role of honest broker. Finally, we were interpreted as issue advocates because the scenario exercise reduced the scope of preferable policy options for administrators. Performing these boundary-spanning roles in the same process, but each, in turn, enables researchers to offer views on sustainability via scenarios that break easily acceptable conventions.

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Series: Science and public policy
ISSN: 0302-3427
ISSN-E: 1471-5430
ISSN-L: 0302-3427
Volume: 47
Issue: 2
Pages: 161 - 171
DOI: 10.1093/scipol/scz055
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 616 Other humanities
Funding: The workshop ‘Changing North and Challenges of Environmental Governance’ was arranged as part of the ‘Primary Industries and Transformational Change’ project, funded by the Research Council of Norway (2015–2018).
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact