Advertisement

Policy Sciences

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 339–361 | Cite as

Accelerating the public’s learning curve on wicked policy issues: results from deliberative forums on euthanasia

  • Harri Raisio
  • Pirkko Vartiainen
Research article

Abstract

The concept of wicked problems has been increasingly recognized in policy studies over the last decade. However, 40 years after the concept was introduced, the bulk of the available research still seems to follow the same approach: Issues are identified as being wicked problems, and rather similar models are theorized to address them. We argue that the research on wicked problems would benefit from a stronger empirical slant; the current research adopts just such an empirical approach in focusing on the role of citizens in tackling wicked policy issues. More specifically, the mechanisms of deliberative democracy are analyzed. This is important because wicked policy issues are commonly associated with fragmentation and incoherence. Deliberative mechanisms are then thought to lead toward public judgment, a form of shared understanding where citizens strive to understand the complexity of the issue and, working together in deliberation, seek the best ways to address it. Drawing on the outcomes of four deliberative forums on euthanasia conducted in Finland in November 2013, the current research analyzes whether the deliberation process helped the participants to progress on the public’s learning curve and whether it was ultimately likely to foster authentic public judgment on a particular wicked policy issue.

Keywords

Wicked problem Deliberative democracy Public policy Euthanasia Empirical study 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Kone Foundation for funding this research and Lyn Carson, Maija Setälä, Salla Kyrönlahti, and Tomi Niemi for their valuable assistance during the project. We are also grateful to three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

References

  1. Ackoff, R. L. (1974). Redesigning the future. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Alink, F., Boin, A., & T’Hart, P. (2011). Institutional crises and reforms in policy sectors: The case of asylum policy in Europe. Journal of European Public Policy, 8(2), 286–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. APS. (2007). Tackling wicked problems: A public policy perspective. Australian Public Service Commission Commonwealth of Australia. http://www.apsc.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0005/6386/wickedproblems.pdf. Accessed February 9, 2015.
  4. Atlee, T. (2004). Critiquing America speaks’ process and alternative approaches as paths to “collective intelligence”. Group Facilitation: A Research & Applications Journal, 6(Spring), 93–101.Google Scholar
  5. Bächtiger, A., Niemeyer, S., Neblo, M., Steenbergen, M. R., & Steiner, J. (2010). Symposium: Toward more realistic models of deliberative democracy. Disentangling diversity in deliberative democracy: Competing theories, their blind spots and complementarities. The Journal of Political Philosophy, 18(1), 32–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balassiano, K. (2011). Tackling “wicked problems” in planning studio courses. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 31(4), 449–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Batie, S. S. (2008). Wicked problems and applied economics. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 90(5), 1176–1191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blackman, T., Greene, A., Hunter, D. J., McKee, L., Elliott, E., Harrington, B., et al. (2006). Performance assessment and wicked problems: The case of health inequalities. Public Policy and Administration, 21(2), 66–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boudreau, J. D., & Somerville, M. A. (2014). Euthanasia and assisted suicide: A physician’s and ethicist’s perspectives. Medicolegal and Bioethics, 4, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carcasson, M. (2013). Tackling wicked problems through deliberative engagement. Colorado Municipalities. October, 9–13.Google Scholar
  11. Carson, L. (2011). Dilemmas, disasters and deliberative democracy: Getting the public back into policy. Griffith Review, 32(winter), 25–32.Google Scholar
  12. Carson, L., & Blakely, B. (2013). What can Oregon teach Australia about dying? Journal of Politics and Law, 6(2), 30–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carson, L., & Hart, P. (2005). What randomness and deliberation can do for community engagement. Paper presented at International Conference on Engaging Communities, Brisbane, Australia. http://www.activedemocracy.net/articles/engag-comm.pdf. Accessed February 9, 2015.
  14. Carson, L., & Hartz-Karp, J. (2005). Adapting and combining deliberative designs. In J. Gastil & P. Levine (Eds.), The deliberative democracy handbook (pp. 120–138). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  15. Chambers, S. (2003). Deliberative democratic theory. Annual Review of Political Science, 6(1), 307–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Clarke, M., & Stewart, J. (2000). Handling the wicked issues. In C. Davies, L. Finlay, & A. Bullman (Eds.), Changing practice in health and social care (pp. 377–386). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Conklin, J. (2005). Dialogue mapping: Building shared understanding of wicked problems. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Coutaz, M. (2014). Too old, too expensive? The impact of health costs on senior citizens in Switzerland. European Geriatric Medicine, 5(1), 39–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cox, A. M., Pinfield, S., & Smith, J. (2014). Moving a brick building: UK libraries coping with research data management as a ‘wicked’ problem. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. doi: 10.1177/0961000614533717.Google Scholar
  20. Coyne, R. (2005). Wicked problems revisited. Design Studies, 26(1), 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Crosby, N., & Nethercut, D. (2005). Citizens juries: Creating a trustworthy voice of the people. In J. Gastil & P. Levine (Eds.), The deliberative democracy handbook: Strategies for effective civic engagement in the twenty-first century (pp. 111–119). San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  22. Devaney, J., & Spratt, T. (2009). Child abuse as a complex and wicked problem: Reflecting on policy developments in the United Kingdom in working with children and families with multiple problems. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(6), 635–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dryzek, J. S. (2010). Foundations and frontiers of deliberative governance. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dryzek, J., & Niemeyer, S. (2006). Reconciling pluralism and consensus as political ideals. American Journal of Political Science, 50(3), 634–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ellis, D. G. (2010). Argument and ethnopolitical conflict. Communication and Measures, 4(1), 98–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Elstub, S. (2010). The third generation of deliberative democracy. Political Studies Review, 8(3), 291–307.Google Scholar
  27. Esterling, K., Fung, A., & Lee, T. (2010). The difference that deliberation makes: Evaluating the “our budget, our economy” public deliberation. Chicago: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.Google Scholar
  28. Fishkin, J. S., He, B., Luskin, R. C., & Siu, A. (2010). Deliberative democracy in an unlikely place: Deliberative polling in China. British Journal of Political Science, 40(2), 435–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fleck, L. M. (2012). Pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine: Wicked problems, ragged edges and ethical precipices. New Biotechnology, 29(6), 757–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fung, A. (2003). Recipes for public spheres: Eight institutional design choices and their consequences. The Journal of Political Philosophy, 11(3), 338–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gastil, J., & Richards, R. (2013). Making direct democracy deliberative through random assemblies. Politics & Society, 41(2), 253–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Grint, K. (2005). Problems, problems, problems: The social construction of leadership. Human Relations, 58(11), 1467–1493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gutmann, A., & Thompson, D. (2004). Why deliberative democracy?. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Habermas, J. (1999). Moral consciousness and communicative action. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. Hänninen, J. (2012). Eutanasia—Hyvä kuolema [Euthansia—A good death]. Helsinki: Duodecim.Google Scholar
  36. Hattori, K., McCubbin, M. A., & Ishida, D. N. (2006). Concept analysis of good death in the Japanese community. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 38(2), 165–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Head, B. (2008). Wicked problems in public policy. Public Policy, 3(2), 101–118.Google Scholar
  38. Heimer, C. A. (2013). ‘Wicked’ ethics: Compliance work and the practice of ethics in HIV research. Social Science and Medicine, 98, 371–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hendriks, C. M. (2006). Integrated deliberation: Reconciling civil society’s dual role in deliberative democracy. Political Studies, 54(3), 486–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Herne, K., & Setälä, M. (2005). Deliberatiivisen demokratian ihanteet ja kokeilut [Ideals and experiments of deliberative democracy]. Politiikka, 47(3), 175–188.Google Scholar
  41. Holm, S. (2010). Euthanasia: Agreeing to disagree. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 13(4), 399–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Horn, R. E., & Weber, R. P. (2007). New tools for resolving wicked problems: Mess mapping and resolution mapping processes. http://stanford.edu/%7erhorn/a/recent/Clmrgy.pdf. February 9, 2015.
  43. Jentoft, S., & Chuenpagdee, R. (2009). Fisheries and coastal governance as a wicked problem. Marine Policy, 33(4), 553–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jylhänkangas, L., Smets, T., Cohen, J., Utriainen, T., & Deliens, L. (2014). Descriptions of euthanasia as social representations: Comparing the views of Finnish physicians and religious professionals. Sociology of Health & Illness, 36(3), 354–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kreuter, M. W., De Rosa, C., Howze, E. H., & Baldwin, G. T. (2004). Understanding wicked problems: A key to advancing environmental health promotion. Health Education & Behavior, 31(4), 441–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lee, G. L., Woo, I. M. H., & Goh, C. (2013). Understanding the concept of “good death” among bereaved family caregivers of cancer patients in Singapore. Palliative and Supportive Care, 11(1), 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Levin, K., Cashore, B., Bernstein, A., & Auld, G. (2012). Overcoming the tragedy of super wicked problems: Constraining our future selves to ameliorate global climate change. Policy Sciences, 45(2), 123–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ludwig, D. (2001). The era of management is over. Ecosystem, 4(8), 758–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lukensmeyer, C. (2005). A town meeting for the twenty-first century. In J. Gastil & P. Levine (Eds.), The deliberative democracy handbook (pp. 154–163). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  50. Malone, E. F., & Malone, M. J. (2013). The “wicked problem” of cybersecurity policy: Analysis of United States and Canadian policy response. Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, 19(2), 158–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mansbridge, J., Bohman, J., Chambers, S., Christiano, T., Fung, A., Parkinson, J., et al. (2012). A systemic approach to deliberative democracy. In J. Parkinson & J. Mansbridge (Eds.), Deliberative systems (pp. 1–26). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mansbridge, J., Bohman, J., Chambers, S., Estlund, D., Føllesdal, A., Fung, A., et al. (2010). The place of self-interest and the role of power in deliberative democracy. The Journal of Political Philosophy, 18(1), 64–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Marcous, I., Mishara, B. L., & Durant, C. (2007). Confusion between euthanasia and other end-of-life decisions. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 98(3), 235–238.Google Scholar
  54. Miller, D. S., & Gonzalez, M. (2013). When death is the destination: The business of death tourism—Despite legal and social implications. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 7(3), 293–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Morrell, M. E. (2010). Empathy and democracy: Feeling, thinking, and deliberation. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Nie, M. (2003). Drivers of natural resource-based political conflict. Policy Sciences, 36(3–4), 307–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Norton, B. G. (2012). The ways of wickedness: Analyzing messiness with messy tools. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 25(4), 447–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Offe, C. (2011). Crisis and innovation of liberal democracy: Can deliberation be institutionalised? Czech Sociological Review, 47(3), 447–472.Google Scholar
  59. Paul, C., Nicholls, R., Priest, P., & McGee, R. (2008). Making policy decisions about populations screening for breast cancer: The role of citizens’ deliberation. Health Policy, 85(3), 314–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Prasser, S. (2012). Euthanasia: Tackling a ‘wicked’ policy problem. Health Matter, 62(Winter), 20–22.Google Scholar
  61. Raisio, H. (2010). The public as policy expert: Deliberative democracy in the context of Finnish health care reforms and policies. Journal of Public Deliberation, 6(2), 1–34.Google Scholar
  62. Raisio, H., Ollila, S., & Vartiainen, P. (2012). Do youth juries enhance youth political and societal participation? Lessons from the Vaasa experiment. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, 15(3), 41–59.Google Scholar
  63. Reed, P. M., & Kasprzyk, J. (2009). Water resources management: The myth, the wicked, and the future. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 135(6), 411–413.Google Scholar
  64. Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Roberts, N. (2000). Wicked problems and network approaches to resolution. International Public Management Review, 1(1), 1–19.Google Scholar
  66. Rurup, M. L., Smets, T., Cohen, J., Bilsen, J., Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B. D., & Deliens, L. (2011). The first five years of euthanasia legislation in Belgium and the Netherlands: Description and comparison of cases. Palliative Medicine, 26(1), 23–49.Google Scholar
  67. Scarre, G. (2012). Can there be a good death? Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 18(5), 1082–1086.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Signal, L. N., Walton, M. D., Mhurchu, C. N., Maddison, R., Bowers, S. G., Carter, K. N., et al. (2013). Tackling ‘wicked’ health promotion problems: A New Zealand case study. Health Promotion International, 28(1), 84–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Silvoniemi, M., Vasankari, T., Vahlberg, T., Clemens, K. E., & Salminen, E. (2010). Physicians’ attitudes towards euthanasia in Finland: Would training in palliative care make a difference? Palliative Medicine, 24(7), 744–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Smith, L. E. D., & Porter, K. S. (2010). Management of catchments for the protection of water resources: Drawing on the New York City watershed experience. Regional Environmental Change, 10(4), 311–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Southgate, E., Reynolds, R., & Howley, P. (2013). Professional experience as a wicked problem in initial teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 31(1), 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Steinberg, A. (2012). What is a “good death”? Notfall Rettungsmed, 15(8), 658–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Steiner, J. (2012). Learning to deliberate. In G. M. Carney & C. Harris (Eds.), Citizens’ voices: Experiments in democratic renewal and reform (pp. 3–7). Galway: ICSG.Google Scholar
  74. Stoppelenburh, A., & Vermaak, H. (2009). Defixation as an intervention perspective: Understanding wicked problems at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Journal of Management Inquiry, 18(1), 40–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Thompson, D. F. (2008). Deliberative democratic theory and empirical political science. Annual Review of Political Science, 11, 497–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Trankle, S. A. (2014). Is a good death possible in Australian critical and acute settings? Physician experiences with end-of-life care. BMC Palliative Care, 13, 41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. van Brussel, L., & Carpentier, N. (2012). The discursive construction of the good death and the dying person. Journal of Language and Politics, 11(4), 479–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. van Bueren, E. M., Klijn, E.-H., & Koppenjan, J. F. M. (2003). Dealing with wicked problems in networks: Analyzing an environmental debate from a network perspective. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 13(2), 193–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Verbakel, E., & Jaspers, E. (2010). A comparative study on permissiveness toward euthanasia. Religiosity, slippery slope, autonomy and death with dignity. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72(1), 109–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Walters, G. (2004). Is there such a thing as a good death? Palliative Medicine, 18(5), 404–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Weber, E. P., & Khademian, A. M. (2008). Wicked problems, knowledge challenges, and collaborative capacity builders in network settings. Public Administration Review, 68(2), 334–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Xiang, W.-N. (2013). Working with wicked problems in socio-ecological systems: Awareness, acceptance, and adaptation. Landscape and Urban Planning, 110(1), 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Yankelovich, D. (1991). Coming to public judgment: Making democracy work in a complex world. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  84. Yankelovich, D. (1995). The debate that wasn’t: The public and the Clinton plan. Health Affairs, 14(1), 7–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Yankelovich, D. (2011). How to achieve sounder public judgment. In D. Yankelovich & W. Friedman (Eds.), Toward wiser public judgment (pp. 11–32). Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  86. Yankelovich, D. (2015). Wicked problems workable solutions: Lessons from a public life. London: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VaasaVaasaFinland

Personalised recommendations