In this article the comparability of knowledge transfer activities is discussed by accounting for external impacts. It is shown that factors which are neither part of the knowledge transfer activity nor part of the participating institution may have significant impact on the potential usefulness of knowledge transfer activities.
Differences in the potential usefulness are leading to different initial conditions of the knowledge transfer activities. This needs to be taken into account when comparing different knowledge transfer activities, e.g., in program evaluations. This study is focusing on regional climate services at the German Baltic Sea coast. It is based on two surveys and experiences with two identical web tools applied on two regions with different spatial coverage.
The results show that comparability among science based knowledge transfer activities is strongly limited through several external impacts. The potential usefulness and thus the initial condition of a particular knowledge transfer activity strongly depends on (1) the perceived priority of the focused topic, (2) the used information channels, (3) the conformity between the research agenda of service providing institutions and information demands in the public, as well as (4) on the spatial coverage of a service.
It is suggested to account for the described external impacts for evaluations of knowledge transfer activities. The results show that the comparability of knowledge transfer activities is limited and challenge the adequacy of quantitative measures in this context. Moreover, as shown in this case study, in particular regional climate services should be individually evaluated on a long term perspective, by potential user groups and/or by its real users. It is further suggested that evaluation criteria should be co-developed with these stakeholder groups.