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Communicating uncertainty: Models of communication and the role of science in assessing progress towards environmental objectives
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research . Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (Centrum för klimatpolitisk forskning)
2009 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, ISSN 1523-908X, Vol. 11, no 2, 87-102 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper is an exploratory study analysing the communication models underlying Swedish civil servants' and scientists' views of how to communicate uncertainty related to progress towards public environmental quality objectives. Their lines of reasoning are illustrated by quotations from in-depth and focus group interviews. Two communication models are discussed: the separation model, in which experts discuss uncertainties among themselves and subsequently present a clear-cut message to practitioners and politicians, and the integration model, in which policy makers and civil servants take part in discussions about how to interpret and handle the uncertainties involved. The paper identifies the importance of acknowledging the existence of uncertainty and of consciously reflecting on what communication model to use in communicating goal achievement. It also emphasizes the need for further discussion of the consequences of each communication model. Moreover, the paper highlights a need for further research into the sense-making processes occurring as actors in the policy and practitioner arenas interpret expert messages. Finally, it is argued that the integration model for communicating uncertainties could be used to encourage reflection and learning within and across societal sectors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge , 2009. Vol. 11, no 2, 87-102 p.
Keyword [en]
communication, uncertainty, management-by-objectives (MBO)
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-19346DOI: 10.1080/15239080902891285OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-19346DiVA: diva2:224514
Available from: 2009-06-18 Created: 2009-06-18 Last updated: 2009-06-22Bibliographically approved

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Wibeck, Victoria

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  • nn-NO
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