Participatory Model Construction ...
ORIGINAL PAPER Participatory Model Construction and Model Use in Natural Resource Management: a Framework for Reflection Pieter W. G. Bots �� C. Els van Daalen Published online: 15 October 2008 �� The Author(s) 2008. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com Abstract In this article we propose a framework which can assist analysts in their reflection on the requirements for a participatory modelling exercise in natural resource management. Firstly, we distinguish different types of formal models which may be developed, ranging from models that focus on (bio)physical mechanisms to models which also include the actors involved in the utilisation of the resource and the social mechanisms that co-determine actor behaviour. Secondly, we consider what different modes of stake- holder participation entail for model construction and use. Finally, we propose six different purposes for a modelling exercise (clarify arguments and values, research and analyse, design and recommend, provide strategic advice, mediate, and democratise), and highlight conditions that affect the appropriateness of stakeholder participation for each purpose. The framework does not provide a straightforward recipe for the selection of participatory modelling methods, but we expect that the systematic reflection it affords will help analysts to make appropriate choices while designing a modelling exercise. Keywords Natural resource management Formal models Participatory methods Model typology Stakeholders Introduction Decision making processes in the context of natural resource management (NRM) fre- quently involve the use of models that provide computation and visualisation capabilities to support the design and evaluation of alternative NRM policies. Traditionally, these models are constructed by experts who are much more detached from the decision making process than the actors who have a stake in the NRM issue that is decided upon. By P. W. G. Bots C. E. van Daalen (&) Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, P.O. Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org P. W. G. Bots Montpellier Regional Center, Cemagref, BP 5095, 34033 Montpellier cedex 1, France 123 Syst Pract Action Res (2008) 21:389���407 DOI 10.1007/s11213-008-9108-6
contrast, participatory modelling approaches, such as group model building using System Dynamics (Richardson and Andersen 1995 Van den Belt 2004) and ���Companion Mod- elling��� using multi-agent simulation (Bousquet et al. 1999), rely on stakeholder participation not only in the use of the model, but also in its construction. As the application of participatory modelling methods begins to proliferate, the question when which method is appropriate becomes pertinent. This question is difficult to answer: the terms ���model��� and ���method��� are very generic, and appropriateness is relative to the purpose of the method and the context in which it is applied. Therefore, instead of pro- viding an answer, we propose a conceptual framework that can support analysts in their reflection on the appropriateness of stakeholder participation in the construction and/or use of models in the context of NRM. We will develop this conceptual framework as follows. We begin by explaining how we see a model and what we mean by a modelling exercise in the context of NRM. We then focus on the requirements analysis for a modelling exercise because in this step we expect the analyst to decide which NRM model type and which stakeholder participation mode are most appropriate in view of the purpose of the modelling exercise. To support this deci- sion, we propose five NRM model subtypes, four modes of stakeholder participation, six different purposes for construction and/or using models, and a grid and guideline for reflection that provide the analyst a heuristic for finding appropriate combinations. Modelling Concepts Within our conceptual framework, a model is a representation of some referent object that can yield the answer to a question about this referent object more efficiently than the referent object itself (Rothenberg 1989). This general definition includes all types of models used for inquiry, including scale models, mental models, and symbolic models. We will focus on ���executable��� models. This does not mean that the model has to be quanti- tative it may also consist of a causal diagram which is analysed, or of a protocol for a gaming simulation, which is executed. We define a modelling exercise as a purposeful activity of constructing and/or using a model in which stakeholders may be involved. By ���purposeful��� we mean that the analyst carries out a requirements analysis which leads to what we call a ���model definition���: a specification of the intended purpose/function of the modelling exercise (including the questions the model should be able to answer), the anticipated utilisation of the results, the model type, the participation mode and the modelling method/software platform. Thus, the choices made during the requirements analysis will largely determine the way in which the modelling exercise is carried out. The three steps (requirements analysis, model construction and model use) are presented in Fig. 1 as a cycle, because results may give rise to new questions that call for a new modelling exercise, possibly with a different type of model. Although the diagram suggests that one model is developed, a modelling exercise may also involve multiple models, e.g. to represent and subsequently discuss divergent perspectives of stakeholders (Mingers and Rosenhead 2004). Modelling exercises usually are part of a larger process of (participatory) NRM deci- sion-making. When designing such a process, the analyst must consider which role the model(s) will play in this process. Modelling exercises may be central to the process (e.g. Bousquet et al. 1999 Van den Belt 2004), but they may also play only a minor part in it (e.g. Tippett 2004 Stauffacher et al., this issue). This means that the process may revolve 390 Syst Pract Action Res (2008) 21:389���407 123
around the model, or that the model may be subservient to the process. The requirements analysis may even reveal that it is better not to construct or use a model to support participatory NRM decision-making. The process design for rural communities by Rist et al. (2006), for example, comprises communicative workshops involving a mix of local and external people that deliberately do not follow structured, cognition-oriented methods such as modelling, to avoid that the external people would impose their mode of thought on the local participants. In the remainder of this article, we develop a conceptual framework to support the requirements analysis for modelling exercises in the context of NRM. The type of model, the participation of stakeholders in its construction and/or use, and the purpose of the modelling exercise (including the questions the model should be able to answer) will be focal to the discussion, this at the expense of the choice of a particular modelling method and software platform. Typology of NRM Models A Generic NRM Model Type We assume that the referent object of a NRM model is the natural resource and its utilisation, and that the questions to be answered by the model are posed by one or more actors who hold a stake in this referent object. This implies that a NRM model should somehow represent the physical aspects of the resource, the social aspects of its utilisation, and the interaction between these aspects. Taking a river as an example, physical aspects could include the geography of the riverbed and its hydrological properties, while social aspects could be related to the utilisation of the river (e.g. for irrigation, navigation and sanitation) and include uses, rules governing those uses, and the social processes through which such rules are developed. The physical dimension and social dimension are interdependent. The state of the natural resource is influenced by its utilisation and vice versa. Usually this results in tension between different uses, with conflict between different social groups (different user groups, or similar user groups upstream and downstream) as a consequence. Requirements analysis Construction Use Results Model definition Model Fig. 1 Schematic representation of a modelling exercise Syst Pract Action Res (2008) 21:389���407 391 123