Clumsiness: Why isn't it as easy as falling off a log?

Thompson, M. (2008). Clumsiness: Why isn't it as easy as falling off a log? Innovation 21 (3) 205-216. 10.1080/13511610802404922.

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The process by which Arsenal Football Club found the site for its new stadium started off quite elegantly - just the market actor (Arsenal) and the hierarchical actor (Islington Council) - but was soon clumsified by the entry of an egalitarian actor (the Highbury Community Association). Association). The result was a solution, totally overlooked in the early stages, that gave each of these contending actors more of what it wanted (and less of what it did not want) than it would have got if it had somehow established hegemony and "gone it alone." This "clumsy solution" came about more or less by accident, and it stands in marked contrast to the sort of outcomes that we usually get, especially in relation to policy issues that have a high scientific input: environment and development in the Himalayan region, for instance. All of which raises the question: "How can we get clumsy solutions by design." One important part of the answer is: "By doing pretty well the exact opposite of what policy orthodoxy says we should do." Rather than a single, agreed definition of the problem, we need to move towards noisy and argumentative institutional arrangements in which all three voices (each with its distinctive definition of the problem - a definition, moreover, that cannot be reconciled with the other two) are (a) able to make themselves heard and (b) are then responsive to one another. Indeed, policy subsystems can be plotted on a 3 W 3 matrix in terms of accessibility and responsiveness, with deliberative quality increasing markedly as we move from (1,1: closed hegemony) to (3,3: clumsy institution). Any move that is uphill on this three-dimensional landscape is a move in the right direction (if we value deliberative quality and democratization, that is); any move that is downhill should be avoided like the plague.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Accessibility; Clumsiness; Deliberative quality; Pluralist democracy; Responsiveness; Uncomfortable knowledge
Research Programs: Institute Scholars (INS)
Risk and Vulnerability (RAV)
Bibliographic Reference: Innovation; 21(3):205-216 [2008]
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:40
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:38

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