, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 40-60

Coping with intractable controversies: The case for problem structuring in policy design and analysis

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Intractable controversies and other types of policy disagreements correspond to policy problems with a different structure. The more structured a problem is, the more consensus there is about which values and information are at stake in the process of problem solving. Policymakers like to treat problems in as structured a way as possible. Three policy strategies are described to move away from the unstructured to the more structured problem type. However, policymakers run the risk of oversimplifying an ill-structured problem, which means that elements of the problem situation relevant to other actors are overlooked or denied. Hence, policy controversies may become intractable. The remedy is a fourth strategy, characterised by problem structuring. This strategy requires political participation of actors with different views on the problem, and an argued political problem choice.

His main research areas are problem structuring in public policy, knowledge use, environmental risk, technology and democracy. He is currently working on knowledge-based policy strategies for addressing the issue of climate change.
His research interest is to develop and apply discursive and/or argumentative approaches to the policy process.