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Title: The international politics and operational control of potentially dangerous technology : a case study of recombinant DNA
Author: Russell, Alan Myles
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 1984
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The focus of this thesis is on the international features of the case of recombinant DNA. A transnational model of decision-making is applied to the development and implementation of safeguards which followed the authoritative public announcement by eleven leading microbiologists that certain new experimental techniques involved conjectured hazards. The case is taken, in an historical context, as an example of a new technology displaying 'low probability, high consequence' risks emphasising the international uncertainty involved. A multi-levelled systems approach is adopted to link organisational decision-making analysis to concepts of transnational political relationships (developed from K. Deutsch, R. Keohane and J. Nye, J. Burton, H. Simon, R. Cyert and J. March, W. Evans, and G.T. Allison). The study stresses the importance of operational safeguards developed in the United States and the United Kingdom, illustrating their roles as models, often borrowed and modified elsewhere. In all, some thirty-two states and eleven international organisations are covered, emphasising communications linkages and sources of information. Uncertainty concerning potential hazards led to a transnational incremental approach to the process of decision-making as it affected the development and operationalisation of control options designed to reduce risk. Satisfactory rather than optimal strategies resulted. It was apparent that the limitations faced in 'rational' assessments assisted the growth of political debate in an overall climate of empirical uncertainty. Scientists proved to be well organised internationally, and on the whole retained a dominant input into the transnational decision-making, despite the general level of political controversy. The case stands as an object lesson in the problems associated with internationally assessing uncertain hazards (and benefits) despite the presently accepted perception that risks are somewhat less than originally conceived.
Supervisor: Groom, A. J. R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: JA Political science (General)