Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-cnmwb Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-19T04:33:09.294Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Dissolving Decision Making? Models and Their Roles in Decision-Making Processes and Policy at Large

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 November 2014

Ragna Zeiss
Maastricht University E-mail:
Stans van Egmond
Rathenau Instituut E-mail:


This article studies the roles three science-based models play in Dutch policy and decision making processes. Key is the interaction between model construction and environment. Their political and scientific environments form contexts that shape the roles of models in policy decision making. Attention is paid to three aspects of the wider context of the models: a) the history of the construction process; b) (changes in) the political and scientific environments; and c) the use in policy processes over longer periods of time. Models are more successfully used when they are constructed in a stable political and scientific environment. Stability and certainty within a scientific field seems to be a key predictor for the usefulness of models for policy making. The economic model is more disputed than the ecology-based model and the model that has its theoretical foundation in physics and chemistry. The roles models play in policy processes are too complex to be considered as straightforward technocratic powers.

Topical Section: Models at Work – Models in Decision Making
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Alterra. 2007. Is Your Landscape Climate Proof? Biodiversity Analyses with Larch. Wageningen: Alterra.Google Scholar
Ashmore, Malcolm, Mulkay, Mike, and Pinch, Trevor. 1989. Health and Efficiency: A Sociology of Health Economics. Milton Keynes IL: Open University Press.Google Scholar
Bekebrede, Geertje, and van Bilsen, Arthur. 2009. “Spelen met Complexiteit: Serious Gaming voor Besluitvorming over Ruimtelijke Infrastructuren” [Playing with Complexity: Serious Gaming for Decision-Making about Spatial Infrastructures]. Bestuurskunde 3:2435.Google Scholar
Bijker, Wiebe, Bal, Roland, and Hendriks, Ruud. 2009. The Paradox of Scientific Authority. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Boesten, Jos, and van derLinden, Ton. 1991. “Modeling the Influence of Sorption and Transformation on Pesticide Leaching and Persistence.” Journal of Environmental Quality 20:425435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bogaard, Adrienne van den. 1998. Configuring the Economy: The Emergence of a Modelling Practice in the Netherlands, 1920–1955. Amsterdam: Thela Thesis.Google Scholar
Bogaard, Adrienne van den. 1999. “Past Measurement and Future Prediction.” In Models as Mediators. Perspectives on Natural and Social Science, edited by Morgan, Mary S. and Morrison, Margaret, 282325. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brouwer, Floor. 2001. “Policy-Technology Interactions for Intensive Farming Systems: Some Experiences from the Netherlands.” In Adoption of Technologies for Sustainable Farming Systems, Wageningen Workshop Proceedings, 108119. Paris: OECD Publications.Google Scholar
Callon, Michel. 1998. The Laws of the Market, the Sociological Review. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
CPB, RIVM, SCP. 1994. “Pre-Study: naar een Ramingsmodel voor de Zorgsector” [Pre-Study: Towards an Assessment Model for the Health Care Sector]. Den Haag: CPB, RIVM, SCP.Google Scholar
CPB, SCP. 1995. “Ramingsmodel Zorgsector. Organisatie en Planning” [Assessment Model Health Care Sector: Organization and Planning]. Den Haag: CPB and SCP.Google Scholar
Daalen, Els van, Dresen, Leen, and Janssen, Marco. 2002. “The Roles of Computer Models in the Environmental Policy Life Cycle.” Environmental Science and Policy 5:221–31.Google Scholar
Den Butter, Frank. 2003. “The Dutch Miracle: Institutions, Networks, and Trust.” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 159 (2):362–91.Google Scholar
Edwards, Paul. 1999. “Global Climate Science, Uncertainty and Politics: Data-Laden Models, Model-Filtered Data.” Science as Culture 8 (4):437–72.Google Scholar
Eggink, Gert, and Wiertz, Jaap. 2003. Natuurverkenning 2: Evaluatie van Inhoud, Vorm en Proces [Nature Exploration 2: Evaluation of Content, Form and Process]. Bilthoven: RIVM.Google Scholar
Evans, Robert. 2000. “Economic Models and Economic Policy: What Economic Forecasters Can Do for Government.” In Empirical Models and Policy-Making, edited by den Butter, Frank and Morgan, Mary S., 206–28. London, New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Fischer, Frank, and Forrester, John. 1993. The Argumentative Turn in Policy Analysis and Planning. Durham/London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
Fischer, Frank, Miller, Gerald, and Sidney, Mara. 2007. Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Politics and Methods. Boca Raton, London, and New York: CRC Press.Google Scholar
Galison, Peter. 1997. Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Grin, John, and Felix, Francisca. 2004. “The Praxis of Reflexive Design: Lessons from a Dutch Programme on Sustainable Live-Stock Systems.” Technikfolgenabschätzung – Theorie und Praxis 13 (4):99107.Google Scholar
Hajer, Maarten, and Wagenaar, Hendrik. 2003. Deliberate Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Halffman, Willem. 2003. Boundaries of Regulatory Science: Eco/Toxicology and Aquatic Hazards of Chemicals in the US, England and the Netherlands, 1970–1995. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.Google Scholar
Halffman, Willem. 2009. “Measuring the Stakes: The Dutch Planning Bureaus.” In Scientific Advice to Policy Making: International Comparison, edited by Lentsch, Justus and Weingart, Peter, 4167. Leverkusen Opladen: Barbara Budrich Publishers.Google Scholar
Halffman, Willem, and Hoppe, Rob. 2005. “Science/Policy Boundaries: A Changing Division of Labour in Dutch Expert Policy Advice.” In Democratization of Expertise? Exploring Novel Forms of Scientific Advice in Political Decision-Making, edited by Maasen, Sabine and Weingart, Peter, 135152. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
Helderman, Jan-Kees, Schut, Frederik, van derGrinten, Tom, and van de Ven, Wynand. 2005. “Market-Oriented Health Care Reforms and Policy Learning in the Netherlands.” Journal of Health Policy, Politics and Law 30 (1–2):189209.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hilgartner, Stephen. 2000. Science on Stage: Expert Advice as Public Drama. Stanford: Stanford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huitema, Dave, and Turnhout, Esther. 2009. “Working at the Science–Policy Interface: A Discursive Analysis of Boundary Work at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.” Environmental Politics 18 (4):576594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hunter, David. 1997. Desperately Seeking Solutions: Rationing Health Care. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.Google Scholar
Jansen, Jacques, Halbertsma, Junt, Heesterbeek, Hans, Houweling, Harm, and Jansen, Michiel. 2004. Kwaliteitsborging Databestanden en Modellen. Balanceren tussen Chaotische Dynamiek en Geordende Stilstand [Quality Assurance Databanks and Models. Balancing Chaotic Dynamics and Ordered Stagnation]. Wageningen: Alterra.Google Scholar
Jasanoff, Sheila. 1990. The Fifth Branch: Science Advisors as Policy Makers. Cambridge MA and London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Jasanoff, Sheila. 2005. Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Keuzenkamp, Hugo A. 2003. “A Day of Reckoning for Politicians – or Economists?” In Economic Assessment of Election Programmes: Does It Make Sense? edited by Graafland, John F. and Ros, Arie P., 37. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
Leistra, Minze, van derLinden, Ton, Boesten, Jos, Tiktak, Aaldrik, and van denBerg, Erik. 2001. PEARL Model for Pesticide Behaviour and Emissions in Soil-plant System; Description of the Processes in FOCUS PEARL v 1.1.1. Alterra-rapport 013 / RIVM Rep. 711401009. Bilthoven: Alterra, RIVM.Google Scholar
Linden, Ton van der, and Boesten, Jos. 1989. Berekening van de Mate van Uitspoeling en Accumulatie van Bestrijdingsmiddelen als Functie van hun Sorptiecoefficient en Omzettingssnelheid in Bouwvoormateriaal [Calculation of the Degree of the Washing Out and Accumulation of Pesticides as Function of Their Sorption Coefficient and Rate of Turnover in Upper Layer of Soil]. RIVM rapport 728800003. Bilthoven: RIVM.Google Scholar
Linden, Ton van der, Tiktak, Aaldrik, Heuvelink, Gerard, and Leijnse, Toon. 2006. “Spatial Uncertainty Analysis of Pesticide Leaching Using a Metamodel of PEARL.” In Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Spatial Accuracy Assessment in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 5 – 7 July 2006, edited by Mario Caetano and Marco Painho, 359–366. Lisbon: Instituto Geográfico Português.Google Scholar
Maasen, Sabine, and Weingart, Peter. 2005. Democratization of Expertise? Exploring Novel Forms of Scientific Advice in Political Decision-Making. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
Morgan, Mary, and den Butter, Frank. 2000. Empirical Models and Policy-Making: Interaction and Institutions. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Morgan, Mary, and Morrison, Margaret, eds. 1999. Models as Mediators: Perspectives on Natural and Social Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Opdam, Paul, Verboom, Jana, and Pouwels, Rogier. 2003. “Landscape Cohesion: An Index for the Conservation of Landscapes for Biodiversity.” Landscape Ecology 18 (2):113–26.Google Scholar
Reijnen, Rien, Harms, Bert, Foppen, Ruud, de Visser, R., and Wolfert, Henk. 1995. Rhine-Econet. Ecological Networks in River Rehabilitation Scenario's: A Case Study for the Lower Rhine. Lelystad: RIZA, Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment.Google Scholar
Shackley, Simon, Risbey, James, Stone, Peter, and Wynne, Brian. 1999. “Adjusting to Policy Expectations in Climate Change Modeling.” Climatic Change 43 (2):413454.Google Scholar
Shackley, Simon, and Wynne, Brian. 1995. “Global Climate Change: The Mutual Construction of an Emergent Science-Policy Domain.” Science and Public Policy 22 (4):218–30.Google Scholar
Shackley, Simon, Young, Peter, Parkinson, Stuart, and Wynne, Brian. 1998. “Uncertainty, Complexity and Concepts of Good Science in Climate Change Modelling: Are GCMs the Best Tools?Climatic Change 38:155201.Google Scholar
Sluis, Theo van der, and Bunce, Robert. 2003. Corridors for Life: Ecological Network Analysis for Cheshire County UK. Wageningen: Alterra.Google Scholar
Stone, Diane. 2007. “Recycle Bins, Garbage Cans or Think Tanks? Three Myths Regarding Policy Analysis Institutes.” Public Administration 85 (2):259–78.Google Scholar
Sundberg, Mikaela. 2007. “Credulous Modellers and Suspicious Experimentalists? Comparison of Model Output and Data in Meteorological Simulation Modelling.” Science Studies 19 (1):5268.Google Scholar
Tiktak, Aaldrik, van denBerg, Erik, Boesten, Jos, van Kraalingen, Daniel, Leistra, Minze, and van derLinden, Ton. 2002. Manual of FOCUS PEARL Version 1.1.1. RIVM report 711401008/2000. Bilthoven: RIVM.Google Scholar
Tiktak, Aaldrik, van derLinden, Ton, and Boesten, Jos. 2003. The GeoPEARL Model – Description, Applications and Manual. RIVM report 716601007/2003. Bilthoven: RIVM.Google Scholar
Trommel, Willem. 2003. “De Onderzoeksmethode van het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau” [The Research Method of the Netherlands Institute for Social Research]. Beleid en Maatschappij 30 (1):4254.Google Scholar
Turnhout, Esther. 2009. “The Rise and Fall of a Policy: Policy Succession and the Attempted Termination of Ecological Corridors Policy in the Netherlands.” Policy Sciences 42 (1):5772.Google Scholar
Van Egmond, Stans. 2010. “Science and Policy in Interaction. On Practices of Science Policy Interactions for Policy-Making in Health Care.” Ph.D. diss., Erasmus University Rotterdam.Google Scholar
Van Egmond, Stans, and Zeiss, Ragna. 2010. “Modeling for Policy – Science-Based Models as Performative Boundary Objects for Dutch Policy Making.” Science Studies 23 (1):5878.Google Scholar
Van Egmond, Stans, and Bal, Roland. 2011. “Boundary Configurations in Science Policy, Modeling Practices in Health Care.” Science, Technology and Human Values 36 (1):108130.Google Scholar
Van Rooij, Sabine van, van der Sluis, Theo, Steingrover, Eveline G., and Clarke, Steve. 2004. “Applying Landscape Ecological Methods to Analyse and Design Ecological Networks.” In Landscape Ecology of Trees and Forests. Proceedings of the Woodland Trust and International Association of Landscape Ecology (IALE), 208215. Gloucestershire: IALE.Google Scholar
Verboom, Jana, Foppen, Ruud, Chardon, Paul, Opdam, Paul, and Luttikhuizen, Pieternella. 2001. “Introducing the Key Patch Approach for Habitat Networks with Persistent Populations: An Example for Marchland Birds.” Biological Conservation 100:89101.Google Scholar
Verboom, Jana, and Pouwels, Rogier. 2006. Strategisch Plan Larch: Van Strategische Visie naar Plan van Aanpak [Strategic Plan Larch: From Strategic Vision to Action Plan]. Wageningen: Alterra.Google Scholar
Vries, Annick de. 2008. “Uncertainty in Scientific Policy Advice and Decision Making, 2004–2008.” Ph.D. diss., Twente University.Google Scholar
Vries, Annick de., Halffman, Willem, and Hoppe, Rob. 2010. “Policy Workers Tinkering with Uncertainty: Dutch Econometric Policy Advice in Action.” In Working for Policy, edited by Colebatch, Hal, Hoppe, Robert, and Noordegraaf, Mirko, 91115. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.Google Scholar
WVC, Ministry of Welfare, Health and Culture. 1994. “Brief betreffende Toekomstverkenning Volume en Kosten van de Gezondheidszorg. 2” [Archival Letter Concerning Future Predictions of Volume and Costs of Health Care]. Rijswijk: Ministerie WVC, January 1994.Google Scholar
Weiss, Carol H. 1991. “Policy Research: Data, Ideas, or Arguments?” In Social Sciences and Modern States, edited by Wagner, Peter, 307–32. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Yearley, Steve. 1999. “Computer Models and the Public's Understanding of Science.” Social Studies of Science 29 (6):845–66.Google Scholar
Yearley, Steve, Cinderby, Steve, Forrester, John, Bailey, Peter, and Rosen, Paul. 2003. “Participatory Modelling and the Local Governance of the Politics and UK Air Pollution: A Three-City Case Study.” Environmental Values 12:247–62.Google Scholar