Natural Hazards

, Volume 81, Supplement 1, pp 69–88 | Cite as

Expert engagement in participatory processes: translating stakeholder discourses into policy options

  • JoAnne Linnerooth-Bayer
  • Anna ScolobigEmail author
  • Settimio Ferlisi
  • Leonardo Cascini
  • Michael Thompson
Original Paper


This paper demonstrates an innovative role for experts in supporting participatory policy processes with an application to landslide risk management in the Italian town of Nocera Inferiore. Experts co-produce risk mitigation options based on their specialized knowledge taking account of local knowledge and values by directly coupling stakeholder discourses with option design. Drawing on the theory of plural rationality and based on a literature review, interviews and a public questionnaire, stakeholder discourses are elicited on the landslide risk problem and its solution. Armed with the discourses and in close interaction with stakeholders, experts provide a range of technical mitigation options, each within a given budget constraint. These options are subsequently deliberated in the participatory process with the intent of reaching compromise recommendations for landslide risk mitigation. As we show in an accompanying paper, “Compromise not consensus. Designing a participatory process for landslide risk mitigation” (this issue), the provision of multiple co-produced policy options enhances stakeholder deliberation by respecting legitimate differences in values and worldviews.


Science–policy interface Landslide risk Usable knowledge Plural rationality Public participation Knowledge co-production 



The work described in this publication was supported by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme through the grant to the budget of the SafeLand Project (, Grant Agreement: 226479. The paper reflects the authors’ views and not those of the European Community. Neither the European Community nor any member of the SafeLand Consortium is liable for any use of the information in this paper. We thank the 43 local stakeholders and the 18 participants to the participatory process in Nocera Inferiore who devoted their precious time to our interviews and meetings. Without them, our research work would not have been possible. The same gratitude goes to the numerous volunteers of the 7 local associations providing help to collect the questionnaires, as well as for the 373 survey respondents. This paper is dedicated to the memory of Professor Giuseppe Sorbino and of Paolo Fabbricatore, leader of the local NGO “Montagna Amica” (Mountains’ friends). There are no words to describe their precious contribution to the research in Nocera Inferiore as well as to describe the deep sadness for their loss.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • JoAnne Linnerooth-Bayer
    • 1
  • Anna Scolobig
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Settimio Ferlisi
    • 3
  • Leonardo Cascini
    • 3
  • Michael Thompson
    • 1
  1. 1.Risk, Policy and Vulnerability ProgramInternational Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)LaxenburgAustria
  2. 2.Climate Policy Group, Department of Environmental Systems ScienceSwiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)ZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of SalernoFiscianoItaly

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