Presenter/Author Information

K. B. Matthews
M. G. Hutchins
G. Hill

Keywords

decision support, deliberation, simulation modelling, agriculture, environment

Start Date

1-7-2006 12:00 AM

Description

Drawing on the literature of agricultural decision support systems (DSS) and experience in developing tools for policy support and evaluation, this paper argues that while in the main such tools have failed to live up to expectations it may be that the expectations were unrealistic. The design-use gap of DSS for environmental management is partially the inevitable cycle of expectations (unbelief-euphoria-disappointment and maturity or abandonment) experienced by any innovation. The environmental problems facing land managers and society are dauntingly complex. Yet more or better quality information does not inevitably lead to better management. Many of the issues that face land-use policy and practice have a strong normative component, are highly uncertain and are contested. Information without supporting institutions is also unlikely to result in the levels of cooperation between land managers needed to deliver environmental and ecological outcomes at scales above the individual land management unit. A number of techno-centric silver bullets to the design-use gap have been identified including GIS integration and the perennial user friendliness and transparency. More recently frameworks, standards and reusable components have been proposed. A growing body of evidence exists, however, that indicates the usefulness of tools depends much less on their technological or indeed scientific sophistication but on having a clear understanding of their role (e.g. calculator, record keeper, systems analysis or learning environment) and how the researcher will interact with the stakeholders. The latter, it is argued, goes beyond the include stakeholders panacea and challenges research commissioning based on a design – build – deliver – use paradigm. The paper proposes multi-perspective deliberation as an approach to bridging the design-use gap with the researchers acting as facilitators and the tools or their outputs acting as boundary objects through which issues can be explored.

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Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Bridging the Design-use Gap for DSS in Environmental Policy and Practice.

Drawing on the literature of agricultural decision support systems (DSS) and experience in developing tools for policy support and evaluation, this paper argues that while in the main such tools have failed to live up to expectations it may be that the expectations were unrealistic. The design-use gap of DSS for environmental management is partially the inevitable cycle of expectations (unbelief-euphoria-disappointment and maturity or abandonment) experienced by any innovation. The environmental problems facing land managers and society are dauntingly complex. Yet more or better quality information does not inevitably lead to better management. Many of the issues that face land-use policy and practice have a strong normative component, are highly uncertain and are contested. Information without supporting institutions is also unlikely to result in the levels of cooperation between land managers needed to deliver environmental and ecological outcomes at scales above the individual land management unit. A number of techno-centric silver bullets to the design-use gap have been identified including GIS integration and the perennial user friendliness and transparency. More recently frameworks, standards and reusable components have been proposed. A growing body of evidence exists, however, that indicates the usefulness of tools depends much less on their technological or indeed scientific sophistication but on having a clear understanding of their role (e.g. calculator, record keeper, systems analysis or learning environment) and how the researcher will interact with the stakeholders. The latter, it is argued, goes beyond the include stakeholders panacea and challenges research commissioning based on a design – build – deliver – use paradigm. The paper proposes multi-perspective deliberation as an approach to bridging the design-use gap with the researchers acting as facilitators and the tools or their outputs acting as boundary objects through which issues can be explored.