Obstacles to the Use of Social Science Analysis in Water Decision-Making, or Where's the Demand for Social Science Input?

by Charles W. Howe, Univ of Colorado, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: The Role of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Water Resources Planning and Management


The paper identifies characteristics of both the public decisionmaking process and the methods of social science research that result in social science inputs having little influence on policy decisions. There are cognitive obstacles to the use of social science inputs; decisionmakers have trouble dealing with compound uncertainties that are left from engineering and social analyses; the adversarial climate reduces the receptivity to objective social science inputs. On the other hand, some of the weakness of the demand for social science input is due to the practices and behavior of social scientists themselves. At the cross-disciplinary level are opportunities in reducing adversarial decision processes, devising alternative institutional arrangements, interactive decision support technologies, and others.

Subject Headings: Social factors | Decision making | Water demand | Water resources | Public policy | Decision support systems | Water policy | Hydraulic engineering

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