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Title: Boundary work in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia: A case study on the role of science in policy development
Authors: Adema, J.W.
Issue Date: 1-Sep-2015
Publisher: Open Universiteit Nederland
Abstract: This thesis looks at the role of scientists and the effectiveness of their scientific advice during policy development of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in Australia. It combines the framework of Pielke (2007) on possible roles of scientists with the theory of Cash et al. (2003) on how to measure effectiveness of scientific advice, to investigate if a causal relation can be found between role and effectiveness. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority as a scientific body chose to take the role of Issue Advocate, and most of the individual scientists the role of Science Arbiter, but it can be hypothesised that the role of Honest Broker would have been more effective for this type of problem. The process of policy development for this case study shows two distinctive stages. During the first stage, the Authority’s interpretation of the mandate was to give preference to improving environmental health, whereas during the second stage the Authority was asked to re-interpret the mandate to give equal weight to environmental, social and economic impact. The scientific advice reflects this: during the second stage the proposed volume of water to be returned to the environment was lower than during the first stage. The effectiveness of the scientific advice for both stages was different even though the Authority chose the same role in both stages, which leads to the conclusion that in this case no direct causal relationship can be found between a certain role and effectiveness of the advice. However, a closer look reveals that during the first stage elements of the role of Science Arbiter are more prevalent, and in the second stage the element of stakeholder engagement of the role of Honest Broker. This implies that the role of Issue Advocate can be effective if combined with stakeholder engagement. It also reveals that the advice in the second stage was based on a different value set, which was more aligned with the majority of the decision makers. The thesis further suggests that Pielke’s framework could be refined with regards to the effectiveness of the role of Issue Advocate, combined with the choice of value alignment to improve salience, and the influence of stakeholder engagement to improve legitimacy.
Appears in Collections:MSc Environmental Sciences

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