The precautionary principle and unintended consequences

The precautionary principle and unintended consequences PurposeAll technologies have intended and unintended consequences, both favorable and unfavorable. Because the risks from implementing a technology may outweigh its rewards, the precautionary principle, illustrated by the maxim “better safe than sorry”, often is applied. Yet, the precautionary principle itself may have unintended consequences. This paper aims to discuss the precautionary principle and unintended consequences and present a model for analyzing the resulting implications.Design/methodology/approachA deficiency in applying the precautionary principle often is forgoing a quantitative analysis. In this paper, the authors apply decision analysis and decision analytic methodologies. Specifically, they present a decision model which can be used when analyzing the consequences of using the precautionary principle. The methodology incorporates decision-makers’ attitude in the determination of the preferred decision policy. The authors illustrate the methodology by determining a decision policy regarding the application of the precautionary principle in a situation with potential unintended consequences.FindingsThe findings indicate that a generic decision model structure for assessing the use of the precautionary principle, as illustrated in a decision tree, can be used when implementing a new technology. The results of the analysis indicate that a decision-maker’s attitude plays an important role in determining a preferred decision policy for this dynamic decision situation.Originality/valueThis research breaks new ground by proposing a decision analytic methodology where quantitative analysis can be applied to address problems where technologies are implemented with unintended consequences and where the precautionary principle is applied. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Kybernetes Emerald Publishing

The precautionary principle and unintended consequences

Kybernetes, Volume 48 (2): 22 – Feb 4, 2019

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0368-492X
DOI
10.1108/K-01-2018-0050
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeAll technologies have intended and unintended consequences, both favorable and unfavorable. Because the risks from implementing a technology may outweigh its rewards, the precautionary principle, illustrated by the maxim “better safe than sorry”, often is applied. Yet, the precautionary principle itself may have unintended consequences. This paper aims to discuss the precautionary principle and unintended consequences and present a model for analyzing the resulting implications.Design/methodology/approachA deficiency in applying the precautionary principle often is forgoing a quantitative analysis. In this paper, the authors apply decision analysis and decision analytic methodologies. Specifically, they present a decision model which can be used when analyzing the consequences of using the precautionary principle. The methodology incorporates decision-makers’ attitude in the determination of the preferred decision policy. The authors illustrate the methodology by determining a decision policy regarding the application of the precautionary principle in a situation with potential unintended consequences.FindingsThe findings indicate that a generic decision model structure for assessing the use of the precautionary principle, as illustrated in a decision tree, can be used when implementing a new technology. The results of the analysis indicate that a decision-maker’s attitude plays an important role in determining a preferred decision policy for this dynamic decision situation.Originality/valueThis research breaks new ground by proposing a decision analytic methodology where quantitative analysis can be applied to address problems where technologies are implemented with unintended consequences and where the precautionary principle is applied.

Journal

KybernetesEmerald Publishing

Published: Feb 4, 2019

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