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Alcock, Frank. 2001. "Embeddedness and Influence: A Contrast of Assessment Failure in New England and Newfoundland." Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) Discussion Paper 2001-19. Cambridge, MA: Environment and Natural Resources Program, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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Abstract

This paper examines fisheries assessment failures in New England and Newfoundland.  While scientific assessments proved ineffective determinants of sustainable policies in both cases, a comparative analysis reveals important differences.  In New England, ominous assessments were ignored by decisionmakers while in Newfoundland more optimistic assessments led decisionmakers astray.  This contrast in outcomes illustrates the countervailing perils associated with the degree to which scientific assessment processes are embedded within the organizations that use assessments to inform their decisions.  Embedded assessments are often influential within their host organization, but are apt to raise suspicions outside of them.  Disembedded assessments garner less suspicion, but run the risk of being marginalized when their conclusions conflict with the objectives of decisionmaking organizations.  Given the prevailing conditions within their respective issue domains, this analysis suggests that scientific assessments were insufficiently embedded in New Englandís regulatory structure while exceedingly embedded in Newfoundlandís.

 

 
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