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Specialist perception on particulate matter policy in Korea: causal relationship analysis with Q-methodology and system thinking


The particulate matter (PM) concentration level in Korea is one of the highest among OECD countries and raises great concerns regarding how to deal with the pollution and clean up the air. The Korean government introduced action plans in 2016 and 2017 to reduce PM levels; however, PM problems intensified, and the citizenry demanded better policies to protect the national health. The objective of this study is to address current PM policy in Korea and classify the specialists’ (government officials and researchers) opinions with respect to the policies and management direction related to PM policy for diesel fuels and vehicles. Specialists in Korea are highly involved in promoting government policies; so it is valuable to gather their opinions and comments about diesel fuel policy direction and management. This study employed Q-methodology and a system thinking approach to analyze the specialists’ subjectivity and their causal relationship to PM policy. These methods are helpful in categorizing the specialists’ interests and understanding the differences among their positions. A series of interviews with specialists from various government institutions was conducted for the analysis. The results show that there is dysfunction in the ministries, an absence of effective systems to convey relevant information, and uncertainty regarding citizen participation. Therefore, a better understanding of the roles and functions of ministries needs to be considered and redefined.

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This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017S1A3A2066771).

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Correspondence to Brian H. S. Kim.

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Lee, H., Chang, I. & Kim, B.H.S. Specialist perception on particulate matter policy in Korea: causal relationship analysis with Q-methodology and system thinking. Ann Reg Sci 63, 341–373 (2019).

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JEL Classification

  • I8
  • Q53
  • R11