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Strategies to institutionalize companion modelling approaches

Ducrot R., Botta A.. 2009. In : Anderssen, R.S. (ed.), R.D. Braddock (ed.), L.T.H. Newham (ed.). 18th World IMACS Congress and MODSIM09 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation, Cairns, Australia 13-17 July 2009. Canberra : MSSANZ, p. 2983-2989. International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. 18, 2009-07-13/2009-07-17, Cairns (Australie).

Participative approaches are often viewed as an interesting way to promote the links between local and regional levels necessary to policy decentralization. Among those, the companion modelling (ComMod) approach aims at developing collective learning and at supporting decision making process by eliciting the different perceptions of a complex situation and by collectively exploring possible futures. This participative modelling and simulation approach has historically been developed and experimented at local level. But as many participative approaches, it has rapidly been confronted with the questions raised by the necessary inclusion of larger scale of decision. For instance, to which extend is it possible to transfer the collective knowledge developed to non-participants, or how to associate different types of stakeholders such as regulators? This institutionalisation of the approach implies up-scaling processes (transfer of the approach to higher decision levels), as well as out-scaling processes (dissemination of the approach and outputs to actors of the same level than the participants). When considering the link between human and environment processes, it is now widely acknowledged that scales are social and political construct and that the organisation in level of the society is subjective. Furthermore, the perception of the dimensions to be accounted for varies from one actor to the other. Thus, according to the participation strategy, the issue definition, the representation process, the tools legitimacy and the mode of integration and comprehension of knowledge may differ. This paper presents and discusses methodological strategies that have been tested in 14 experiences to institutionalise the ComMod approach. Participation, representation development and implementation methods, such as: participation of external actors at various moments of the approach, specific communication methods, development of generic tools and representations, training and formation are being reviewed. The analysis of the cases study points out two main concerns in participative modelling institutionalization. First, one need to clarify what is to be institutionalized; It may refer to the transfer of a tool or of the approach in order to replicate it, to the appropriation of issue and its complex questioning, or to the integration of the outcomes into the organizations. Second, the approach participates to the power plays around scale issues among institutions. The issues, the outcomes, and the approach are scale dependent, and they all relate to the choices made in term of participation and/or representation. The integration of new actors in ComMod process may imply the collective redefinition of the issues and the development of new tools. Moreover, the scale choices of the representation may exclude some actors. The process outcomes are particularly difficult to transfer. Indeed, they relate to socio-political changes embedded in the social context and/or ephemeral collective learning. Efficient strategy to achieve the dissemination of these outcomes remains a research question. At last, the transfer of the approach itself is associated with high risks of normative and prescriptive drifts. It therefore calls for careful designed training processes....

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