DMDU and Public Policy for Uncertain Times

Published in: Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty: From Theory to Practice, Chapter 16, pages 375-392. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-05252-2_16

Posted on on April 10, 2019

by Steven W. Popper

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Public policy has always confronted future uncertainties. Projecting likely futures has been viewed as best practice for assessing proposed plans even though few would expect exactly those futures to occur. But in an era of deep uncertainties in which prior rules of thumb are no longer believed likely to hold true in years to come, sufficient diligence for policy analysis demands a different standard. DMDU approaches collectively represent an evolving capacity to deal with the challenge of the future by providing a technology of complexity, especially in the analysis of problems in public policy. New approaches to policy analysis may provide the means to enable policy processes better suited to deep uncertainty and dynamic change. And the recognition by policymakers that there exist (and that they should demand) new means for analysis that comport better to the emerging needs of policy would, in turn, allow more rapid diffusion of technique into realms not yet exposed to means for decisionmaking under deep uncertainty. The interaction between analysts and policymakers requires contact between two distinct cultures. DMDU applications collectively present a body of theory and practice with the potential for providing a common vocabulary to the work of both analysts and of those charged with policy design and implementation during uncertain times. For a problem requiring treatment by DMDU approaches, "any job worth doing is worth doing superficially." An analysis based on an initial fast and simple exploratory model will frequently elucidate many of the major interactions between policy choices and the problem system. (Exploratory Modeling is discussed extensively in Chaps. 2, 7, and 15.) Those factors that appear most salient may then be examined in more detailed fashion in later model revisions and recalibrations.

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