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Title: Online computer-mediated decision-making for sustainable environmental management
Author: Hossack, Iain Donald
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 8864
Awarding Body: University of the West of Scotland
Current Institution: University of the West of Scotland
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis describes emerging European Union challenges for environmental justice: public participation with transparent decision-making; and knowledge transfer of complex scientific information. It describes the Delphi technique, a pen-and-paper decision support framework developed during the late 1950s and 1960s and its potential to meet environmental justice challenges, if coupled with internet-based computer technologies; online computer mediated decision making (OCMDM). Through various case studies, mainly with one group of soil experts, a long term assessment of OCMDM is presented. This thesis argues that OCMDM provides a technologically flexible, relatively inclusive and efficient framework for discourse capture. However, from a social perspective, OCMDM is far from universally popular, mirroring long-held views of traditional pen-and-paper-based Delphis. At this time, the tool could not be recommended as a transferable panacea for public consultation. Nevertheless, a long-term study of user group engagement with the tool identifies significant utility for conflict resolution, with scope for application within contentious decision-making arenas, if utilised sparingly and thoughtfully. Criteria for successful 'real-world' acceptance of application and research with the tool are provided, together with examples of real-world decision-making arenas that meet them. Through analysis of participants' perceptions, a tantalising glimpse of potentially complex fractal-based decision processes is offered: honing and spiraling towards an ever-refining definition of a truth. This study suggests that this singular decision is itself only part of other archetypal honing-spiraling mechanisms of decision-making, either objectively or metaphorically; each of differing attractions and repulsion to an end user. By identifying some of these fundamental rules of participation, this study provides an opportunity to explore human interaction and decision-making with greater accuracy. There is considerable potential to eliminate most, if not all, OCMDM participant concerns.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available