Accident and Design: Contemporary Debates in Risk Management

By Christopher Hood; David K. C. Jones | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE

Conclusion: learning from your desk lamp

HOMEOSTATIC VERSUS COLLIBRATIONIST1APPROACHES TO RISK MANAGEMENT

Each of the seven areas of debate reviewed in the preceding chapters raises serious issues for risk management, which recur across different specialisms and areas of policy, albeit with differences in precise terminology and emphasis. It is not claimed that the seven opposing positions are either necessarily mutually exclusive or collectively exhaustive. For example, the issue of whether to adopt a “statist” or “non-interventionist” approach to risk management underlies many of the debates in the field and might well be identified as a further separate dimension. But the seven dimensions that have been described do cover many areas of the contemporary debate and it seems likely that, in many areas of risk management, an approach that leaves any of the positions out of account is likely to be inadequate.

Many of the seven sets of risk management doctrines are in principle independent of one another. For example, it is possible to combine an emphasis on process-based regulation with either a “broad” or “narrow” position on participation in risk management decision-making. And both can be combined with either a “complementarist” or “trade-off' position. As a consequence, a large array of possible combinations of positions exist, even on these seven dimensions. But in practice some positions do tend to be readily combined with others. For example, those who favour “anticipation” are unlikely to be “agnostics” over the possibility of institutional design (although those who would place the emphasis on “resilience” may well also advocate institutional design). Similarly, those in favour of broad participation are unlikely to be pure “quantificationists”. It may well be that the seven areas of debate could ultimately be reduced to some more basic set of distinctions, such as the well known quadrants of the cultural theorists (Thompson et al. 1990) as recently elaborated by Adams (1995).

Moreover, another broad thread can be distinguished as running

1. See p. 206 for explanation.

-205-

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