Knowledge and Policy

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 40–60 | Cite as

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

  • Matthijs Hisschemöller
  • Rob Hoppe


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.


Policy Analysis Policy Strategy Public Participation Policy Process Policy Science 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthijs Hisschemöller
    • 1
  • Rob Hoppe
    • 2
  1. 1.the Institute for Environmental Studies of the Free UniversityAmsterdam
  2. 2.the University at AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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