Using a Phosphorus Flow Diagram as a Boundary Object to Inform Stakeholder Engagement

Ashton W. Merck, Khara D. Grieger, Alison Deviney, Anna-Maria Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Phosphorus (P) is essential for life on Earth, yet its current management is unsustainable. Stakeholder engagement is urgently needed to help ensure that scientific and technical solutions to improve P sustainability meet the needs of diverse groups, yet there are comparatively few studies that provide insights into stakeholder views, perceptions, or concerns. In this opinion, we use a mass flow diagram of P as a boundary object to understand the complex challenges of sustainable P management. In particular, we map US stakeholder groups onto the mass flow diagram to incorporate human factors into mass flows at a national scale. Our approach is grounded in well-established social–scientific methodologies, such as stakeholder mapping and social network analysis, but is applied in a novel way that can be generalized to other mass flows and geographic areas. We then suggest ways that researchers can use the annotated flow diagram to identify both knowledge gaps and research gaps in stakeholder engagement, especially in interdisciplinary or convergence research contexts.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11496
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • stakeholder engagement
  • boundary object
  • sustainability
  • phosphorus


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