Incorporating pragmatism in a behaviour change-led climate adaptation project: a collaborative reflection

Kien Nguyen-Trung, Alexander K. Saeri, Stefan Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: This article argues the value of integrating pragmatism in applying behavioural science to complex challenges. We describe a behaviour change-led knowledge co-production process in the specific context of climate change in Australia. This process was led by an interdisciplinary research team who struggled with the limitations of the prevailing deterministic behaviour change paradigms, such as the “test, learn, adapt” model, which often focuses narrowly on individual behaviours and fails to integrate multiple interpretations from diverse stakeholders into their knowledge co-production process. Design/methodology/approach: This article uses collaborative reflection as a method of inquiry. We document the team’s experience of a recent challenge-led, programatic research initiative that applied behaviour change strategies to reduce climate vulnerabilities. We demonstrate the necessity of critical reflection and abductive reasoning in the face of the complexities inherent in knowledge co-production addressing complex problems. It underscores the importance of accommodating diverse perspectives and contextual nuances over a one-size-fits-all method. Findings: The article shares lessons learnt about integrating collaborative and critical reflection throughout a project cycle and demonstrates the capacity of abductive reasoning to ease the challenges arising from the tension between behaviour change paradigms and knowledge co-production principles. This approach allows for a more adaptable and context-sensitive application, acknowledging the multiplicity of understandings and the dynamic nature of behavioural change in relation to climate adaptation. Originality/value: This reflection contributes original insights into the fusion of pragmatism with behaviour change strategies, proposing a novel framework that prioritises flexibility, context-specificity and the recognition of various stakeholder perspectives in the co-production of knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalQualitative Research Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Abductive reasoning
  • Behaviour change
  • Climate adaptation
  • Critical reflection
  • Knowledge co-production
  • Pragmatism
  • Qualitative research

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