Wednesday 5th Feb, 2:45 pm
This paper reports research findings on how agricultural scientists working on research and development projects in South East Asia communicate with each other. Successful communication between scientists was shown to be vital for building effective relationships and outcomes from scientific projects implemented in developed countries, particularly as it enhanced trust and respect between team members. However, this contention has not been tested for international research teams from developed and developing countries working on collaborative projects in developing countries. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 30 agricultural project managers, research scientists and communication specialists from various disciplines in agriculture, livestock production, fisheries and forestry in Australia and in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) in 2011 and 2012. Interviewees cited informal face-to-face communication via meetings, field trips and, to a lesser extent, email as the most important forms of communication. Stronger relationships developed between team members when communication modes used non-verbal cues and verbal message content, which led to more nuanced and ‘richer’ communication that improved professional relationships. Formal communication through the production of co-authored referred journal and conference papers played a very minor role in communication between these scientists as the donor organisation and Lao institutions placed little importance on them. Therefore, the continued strategic use of face-to-face communication would enable and enhance effective management and outcomes from international collaborations for agricultural and rural development, while further research is required into the effectiveness and future uses of digitally-mediated communication between scientists collaborating over geographic and temporal boundaries.