Many barriers impede managers and policy makers from incorporating the “best available science” into decision making and problem solving. Researcher-stakeholder engagement in research is one way to help overcome such cultural, institutional, and practical barriers. In the Willamette Water 2100 project (WW2100), scientists and stakeholders studied biophysical and socioeconomic drivers of future water scarcity in the Willamette Basin to identify ways to anticipate and respond to it. This study explores the participation, motivations, and expectations of research team members and stakeholders in the WW2100 researcher-stakeholder engagement process. Twenty-six semi-structured interviews of key participants and 137 completed online questionnaires illuminate their perceptions of the engagement process. Qualitative and quantitative analyses demonstrate that participants are motivated to attend for social (ex. knowing other participants), knowledge (ex. interest in the topic), and utility (ex. useful management tool) reasons. Nonparametric statistical analyses show that research team members and stakeholders had similar expectations for the roles participants would play but different expectations for the process and resulting model. For instance, all participants expected research team members to interpret model outputs and stakeholders to provide a “boots on the ground” perspective but only researchers expected the process to provide career experience. In most cases, role, model, and process expectations were fulfilled though not always to the degree expected. Understanding the transdisciplinary research process can lead to better collaboration and more effective problem-solving.
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