Concepts of risk and formal tools such as risk analysis have become central to environmental and technology policy. The use of risk concepts in environmental policy is an activity carried out by members of a policy network focused in, but not limited to, Washington, DC. This project surveys the members of the policy network of risk analysts in order to address two central research questions:

* How is the U.S. environmental risk policy network structured? Advances in network analysis allow the research team to identify the boundaries of the network, the position of actors within it, and essential structural features hypothesized to influence policy outcomes.

* What factors have influenced the structure of the U.S. environmental risk policy network? Network models facilitate determining the processes by which the observed network is generated. This lends important, theoretically-relevant insights into the rationales that drive the self-organization of policy networks.

The research includes the merging of the new data to be collected with two prior datasets, one collected during the early 1980s (when risk approaches to policy were relatively new) and one smaller replication collected circa 2000. The enables an analysis of changes over time in the same network, a subject that has not been extensively studied in the risk or policy networks literature.

Risk analysis is a set of analytic tools that has become a central feature in discussions of environmental and technology policies. Risk is a key way in which scientific information enters into policy debates. A network of risk professionals carries out the work of risk analysis and engages in policy debates. By better understanding these professionals and their networks, we can gain insights into how science contributes to shaping policy. Moreover, understanding the flows of scientific and other kinds of information through these professionals? networks will contribute to the development of enhanced communication and the effective use of science in decision making.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Robert E. O'Connor
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West Virginia University Research Corporation
United States
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