The future of ISIE research. Should we support a planning society or an open one?

Gjalt Huppes

Our research outcomes should have high relevance for policy makers, shouldn’t they? Research results tend to improve by increasing details and reducing uncertainty. Implicitly if not explicitly this directs our society towards planning. Though in the short term this may seem optimal the long term may get stranded, not only by the focus on current and currently known technologies but also by adverse societal responses, ranging from trumpism to yellow vests. Those going to be hurt by our proposed innovations, a sure majority, may unite against overall reason, however defined. Fossil energy is a nice example. It is the largest resource used both in terms of mass and value, and it is by far the most non-circular one. Although CO2 emissions are broadly accepted as causing a serious problem, specific measures hurt those bearing the costs, and those losing their jobs. How to avoid the focus on concrete solutions in policy advice, as the road to crumbling policies?

Several issues are at stake, reasoning backwards from the policy question to be answered. So, first, what are the policy questions? In formulating them basic choices of a political philosophical nature are unavoidable. Should we choose which coal fired power stations to close? Or are the questions at a more institutional level? How to resolve a deficiency in our market economy with external cost problems to be resolved somehow? How avoid a too short-term view in decision making? The planning questions require different modelling from the more institutional questions. So basic IE questions arrive. How can more generic modelling be set up, for answering institutional questions? Can a policy-free domain of analysis be defined, shielded from policy advice? Is there a domain where technology-specific analysis is rightfully targeted at a broader audience, which audiences then? Can long term scenarios be developed in a policy relevant way indicating to which type of society they contribute?

Such questions are too open in nature to lead to easily publicizable papers. They seem basic to our Society however, and to society at large. On one of the subjects I intended to contribute, how to link political philosophy to climate policy instrumentation, see my book: Huppes, G. (2019). Strategic Designs for Climate Policy Instrumentation, Governance at the Crossroads. London: Routledge. ( ) This first step may be disputed and next steps are missing, and other resource issues certainly are different. See also the Special Sessions at ISIE2019.

Gjalt Huppes


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