Resolving Environmental Disputes: a Framework Incorporating Decision Analysis and Dispute Resolution Techniques
Resolution of public policy disputes can be enhanced both by qualitative techniques for conflict resolution and by quantitative analyses of decisions under uncertainty. We interweave the two methodologies into a framework that helps communicate and analyze existing alternatives, generate new alternatives and forge consensus plans. Decision analysis provides: (1) techniques for eliciting subjective inputs from the disputing parties; (2) a structure for clarifying and communicating all facets of the decision environment; and (3) a common decision rule (such as maximizing expected utility). Sensitivity analysis of the decision problem serves the consensus process by directing conflict resolution procedures to those aspect of the problem offering the best potential for reaching overall agreement, whether through persuasion and compromise or through gathering and incorporating additional information. The communication tools of conflict resolution enhance the decision analysis by promoting creative thinking, ensuring that the formal analysis captures the underlying interest of the parties involved, and facilitating systematic development of new alternative based on those underlying interests. We illustrate the framework by analyzing an environmental dispute in Zaire over the best policy for management of an endangered species. Using inputs that are hypothetical, but typical of actual party positions, we analyze the dispute between captive breeding advocates and the government of Zaire over management of the northern white rhino. The framework transforms unfocused party gridlock over two original policy options into a focused discussion on a few key inputs. We employ the decision-making procedure to develop several new alternative: (1) a distributive bargaining compromise between the original positions; (2) a contingency plan that exploits the parties' different beliefs about the likelihood of future events; and (3) a synthesis that takes advantage of differences in institutional objectives and capabilities to dovetail different preferences and create joint gains. © 1994 Academic Press. All rights reserved.
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