Information as Influence: How Institutions Mediate the Impact of Scientific Assessments on Global Environmental Affairs

61 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2002

See all articles by William C. Clark

William C. Clark

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Ronald Mitchell

University of Oregon - Department of Political Science

David Cash

Commonwealth of Massachusetts - Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs

Frank Alcock

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: November 2002

Abstract

The recognition that information matters in world affairs raises a number of questions as to when, how, and under what conditions it influences the behavior of policy actors. Despite the vast and growing array of institutions involved in collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information potentially relevant to global governance generally, and global environmental change specifically, our understanding of the role that these "information institutions" play in world affairs remains limited. This paper examines how institutions mediate the impact of scientific assessments on global environmental affairs and highlights the pathways through which information has influence on the policy and politics of environmental issues. We identify salience, credibility and legitimacy as the critical attributions that different audiences make about an assessment that determine whether they will change their thoughts, decisions, and behavior in response to it. We also outline how institutional rules regarding participation, framing, and scope and content allow knowledge systems to reach needed thresholds of salience, credibility, and legitimacy and to balance the tradeoffs and tensions among them.

Keywords: Evironment and Natural Resources, Information Technology, Intergovernmental Relations

Suggested Citation

Clark, William C. and Mitchell, Ronald and Cash, David and Alcock, Frank, Information as Influence: How Institutions Mediate the Impact of Scientific Assessments on Global Environmental Affairs (November 2002). KSG Working Papers Series RWP02-044. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=357521 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.357521

William C. Clark (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3981 (Phone)
617-495-8963 (Fax)

Ronald Mitchell

University of Oregon - Department of Political Science ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States

David Cash

Commonwealth of Massachusetts - Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs ( email )

100 Cambridge Street, 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
United States

Frank Alcock

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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