How Far along the Learning Curve is the Contingent Valuation Method?

by Robert Cameron Mitchell, Clark Univ, United States,
Richard T. Carson, Clark Univ, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


The paper discusses an application of the learning curve concept to new benefit methodologies and applies the model to the contingent valuation (CV) methodology. As knowledge accumulates about a method, researchers proceed along a learning curve whose end point, presuming that no insoluble problems are encountered along the way, is a stage where the method can be implemented in a routine fashion. The analysis leads to the conclusion that although the CV method has passed beyond the experimental prototype stage it is not understood well enough to have reached the routine application stage. Particular attention was paid to what survey researchers have learned about the art of asking questions. The authors maintain that there is still much of importance to learn about the CV method and that it is vulnerable to misuse. 'Forcing' the CV method by prematurely applying it instead of letting it mature naturally is the understandable outcome when natural resource agencies need to justify projects and have limited funds to conduct the necessary research. Unfortunately, forcing poses a threat to the method's further progress along the learning curve.

Subject Headings: Curvature | Water resources | Geomatic surveys | Natural resources | Economic factors | Human factors | Hydrographic surveys | Surveying methods

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