Journal article

Wicked and less wicked problems: a typology and a contingency framework

John Alford, Brian W Head

POLICY AND SOCIETY | TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD | Published : 2017

Abstract

This paper addresses shortcomings in the scholarship about ‘wicked problems’, and suggests ways of tackling them. Firstly, accounts of these problems tend to ‘totalise’, regarding them as intractable masses of complexity, so conflict-prone and/or intractable that they defy definition and solution. By contrast, we put forward a more nuanced analysis, arguing that complex problems vary in the extent of their wickedness, via such dimensions as their cognitive complexity or the diversity and irreconcilability of the actors or institutions involved. We propose a typology of different forms of wicked problems. A second shortcoming, linked to intractability, is that the favoured means of tackling w..

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University of Melbourne Researchers