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U of M researchers find smart decisions for changing environmental times
Date:6/21/2011

l knowledge, but using best knowledge; and learn from decisions and then incorporate the lessons learned into future decisions.

"There's been a lot of review of these different approaches and their utility, but not an integrative framework," said co-author Bonnie Keeler, an IonE interdisciplinary graduate fellow. "We can't just use tools from economics; we can't just use scenarios; we can't just use thresholds. We need to think of all of these in combination."

In the first phase of the innovative strategy, decision-makers create a list of possible scenarios that include responses that allow plenty of room for rolling with the punches if something unexpected happens. The second phase involves choosing among courses of action based on those scenarios and available knowledge. After the decision is made and the consequences emerge, the process then starts again with the insights gained from experience factored in.

"The take-home message is that there are some very powerful tools out there, like decision theory, but they typically require that you know a lot [about the likelihood of various possible outcomes]," Polasky said. "We're trying to think about a broader array of things that possibly could happen and anticipate what we might do about them."

Polasky said he hopes the new approach will help decision-makers recognize the value of looking at a wide range of possible scenarios when selecting the path most likely to lead to a desirable outcome. So, for example, when making insurance decisions, companies or individuals would consider not only the events that have happened in the past, but also unprecedented events that could occur in the future.

"We may think we know the probability of a storm hitting my house," he said. "What if the climate is changing so we don't know the future probability of a storm? [We need to] be clever and creative and take a wide view so we're not surprised by things."


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Contact: Jeff Falk
jfalk@umn.edu
612-626-1720
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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