A problem-structuring method for complex societal decisions: Its philosophical and psychological dimensions

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By Donald Hector, Carleton Christensen, Jim Petrie


A novel approach to problem-structuring for decisions relating to the sustainable development of large-scale infrastructure is pre- sented. The philosophical (a critical realist ontology and epistemology), psychological (implications of behavioural and cognitive psy- chology), and systems dimensions (dynamics and emergent properties) of the problem are discussed, and form the basis of the approach. The problem is structured as a system of ‘‘trilemmas’’ (a means of representing and criticising sets of three competing forces), representing different aspects of the problem and considered in the context of a number of problem dimensions. A case study relating to the development of a sustainable water system for a major Australian metropolis is developed to test the value of the approach.

Link to material: http://ifors.org/developing_countries/downloads/sept2_2011/Hector_2009_European-Journal-of-Operational-Research.pdf