Tag archieven: Wetenschap

The Era of Global Risk

An Introduction to Existential Risk Studies

Edited by SJ Beard, Martin Rees, Catherine Richards, Clarissa Rios Rojas | 2023, Open Book Publishers

This innovative and comprehensive collection of essays explores the most significant threats facing humanity in the 21st century: threats that cannot be contained or controlled and can potentially bring about human extinction and civilization collapse. Bringing together experts from many disciplines, it provides an accessible survey of what we know about these threats, how we can understand them better, and most importantly, what can be done to manage them effectively.

These essays pair insights from decades of research and activism around global risk with the latest academic findings from the emerging field of Existential Risk Studies. Voicing the work of world-leading experts and tackling various vital issues, they weigh up the demands of natural systems with political pressures and technological advances to build an empowering vision of how we can safeguard humanity’s long-term future.

The book covers a comprehensive survey of how to study and manage global risks with an in-depth discussion of core risk drivers, including environmental breakdown, novel technologies, global-scale natural disasters, and nuclear threats. The Era of Global Risk thoroughly analyses the most severe dangers to humanity.

One of the most prominent advocates for the importance of global risk has been the World Economic Forum, who defines a global risk as “the possibility of the occurrence of an event or condition that, if it occurs, could cause significant negative impact for several countries or industries”. – quote from Introduction, xi

Inspiring, accessible, and essential reading for students of global risk and those committed to its mitigation, this book poses one critical question: How can we make sense of this era of global risk and move beyond it to a period of global safety?


Beard, S., Rees, M., Richards, C. and Rios Rojas, C. (eds) (2023) The Era of Global Risk: An Introduction to Existential Risk Studies. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers. https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0336


Rethinking Public Governance

Jacob Torfing* | 2023, Edward Elgar Publishing

In this innovative book, Jacob Torfing, a leading scholar, critically evaluates emerging ideas, practices and institutions, transforming how public governance is perceived, theorised and conducted in practice.

A novel rethinking of how current societies are governed, this book will inspire students, scholars and practitioners of political science, public policy, regulation and governance, and public administration management to reconsider how public governance and administration may be organised in the future to present innovative solutions to societal problems.

Identifying cutting-edge developments in public governance, this incisive book analyses new forms of political leadership, public management, public organisation, administrative steering, cross-boundary collaboration, public regulation and societal problem-solving. Examining some of the most significant instances of public governance transformation, chapters explore the effects of transformations from sovereign to interactive political leadership, from national to multi-level governance, and from hard to soft power.

With a novel focus on producing innovative public value outcomes, the book considers how these developments interact with and are influenced by new digital technologies and increasing globalisation. Torfing concludes with a reflection on how best to comprehend, study and take advantage of current and future transformations in public governance.

Quote from Introduction

Torfing: “This book argues that public governance is changing so rapidly and profoundly that public administration research is struggling to keep up and to keep track of the changes and their various implications. A broad range of well-established principles, perceptions and forms of governing in the public sector are being challenged by new ideas, concepts and practices that, when taken together, are transforming the modus operandi of public governance. Hence, new and emerging forms of political leadership, public management, public organization, administrative steering, cross-boundary collaboration, public regulation and societal problem-solving are being combined with new digital technologies and a novel focus on the production of innovative public value outcomes.

The pace of governance changes has accelerated in recent decades. After half a century of an almost undisputed reign of liberal democracy and public bureaucracy, New Public Management (NPM) reforms swept the world beginning in the late 1970s. Despite their positive impact and results, these NPM practices soon gave rise to an array of criticisms that, in the subsequent decades, spurred the proliferation of several new governance paradigms. Hence, public administration researchers started talking about the Neo-Weberian State (Pollitt & Bouckaert 2011), Digital Era Governance (Dunleavy 2006), Public Value Management (Benington & Moore 2010) and New Public Governance (Osborne 2010). In many cases, the new ideas about public governance triggered reforms, resulting in new practices. While it is difficult to explain the growing pace of public governance reforms, globalization, new technologies, growing citizen demands and the recognition of the planetary limits seem to have disrupted the established forms of public governance and have engaged elected politicians, public managers and an army of private consultants in experimentation, learning and innovation diffusion. In other words, changes in the public sector reflect both external societal change and internal agency-based learning and entrepreneurship.”



  1. The public governance orthodoxy
  2. From sovereign to interactive political leadership
  3. From policy program implementation to public value creation
  4. From control- to trust-based governance and management
  5. From the efficient use of existing resources to the mobilization of new ones
  6. From unicentric to pluricentric coordination
  7. From national- to multi-level governance
  8. From hard to soft power
  9. From intra-organizational to inter-organizational leadership
  10. From stability and continuous improvement to innovation
  11. From spectator and counter-democracy to interactive democracy
  12. Reinvigorating public governance studies


‘With a clarity that belies the difficulty of his task, Jacob Torfing manages to get the whole complex and nettlesome world of public governance into focus. Rethinking Governance demonstrates Torfing’s gift for showing us where we have come from and where we must go.’
– Chris Ansell, University of California, Berkeley, US

‘Rethinking Public Governance offers a masterful account of the origins, current difficulties, and possible vibrant futures for the governance of liberal democracies. The book is a must-read tour de force that integrates across disciplines in a theoretically rich, practically useful way and presents an ambitious agenda for future work.’
– John M. Bryson, University of Minnesota, US

‘Scholars and practitioners alike will benefit from this book’s well-informed, comprehensive, and topical overview of current orthodoxies and transformations in public governance. It identifies drivers and features of cutting-edge collaborative and democratic governance innovations and provides direction and inspiration for advancing both these practices and the study of public governance.’
– Joop Koppenjan, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands


Torfing, J. (2023) Rethinking Public Governance. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

About the author

Jacob Torfing, Professor of Politics and Institutions, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University, Denmark and Faculty of Social Sciences, Nord University, Norway.

Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases

Biases in judgments reveal some heuristics of thinking under uncertainty

Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman | 1974

“This article described three heuristics that are employed in making judgments under uncertainty: (i) representativeness, which is usually employed when people are asked to judge the probability that an object or event A belongs to class or process B; (ii) availability of instances or scenarios, which is often employed when people are asked to assess the frequency of a class or the plausibility of a particular development; and (iii) adjustment from an anchor, which is usually employed in numerical prediction when a relevant value is available.

These heuristics are highly economical and usually effective, but they lead to systematic and predictable errors. A better understanding of these heuristics and of the biases to which they lead could improve judgments and decisions in situations of uncertainty.”

ScienceDirect summary:

“Many decisions are based on beliefs concerning the likelihood of uncertain events such as the outcome of an election, the guilt of a defendant, or the future value of the dollar. Occasionally, beliefs concerning uncertain events are expressed in numerical form as odds or subjective probabilities.

In general, the heuristics are quite useful, but sometimes they lead to severe and systematic errors. The subjective assessment of probability resembles the subjective assessment of physical quantities such as distance or size. These judgments are all based on data of limited validity, which are processed according to heuristic rules. However, the reliance on this rule leads to systematic errors in the estimation of distance.

This chapter describes three heuristics that are employed in making judgments under uncertainty. The first is representativeness, which is usually employed when people are asked to judge the probability that an object or event belongs to a class or event. The second is the availability of instances or scenarios, which is often employed when people are asked to assess the frequency of a class or the plausibility of a particular development, and the third is adjustment from an anchor, which is usually employed in numerical prediction when a relevant value is available.”

Read article (Source: TU Delft OpenCourseWare)

Judment under Incertainty


Tversky, A. and Kahneman, D. (1974) Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases: Biases in judgments reveal some heuristics of thinking under uncertainty. Science, Vol 185, Issue 4157, pp. 1124-1131. DOI: 10.1126/science.185.4157.1124

This publication is part of Ecosystem City: Lessons from the Forest

Creating Public Value

Strategic management in government

Mark H. Moore | 1995

Public Value is a theory for public management advanced by Professor Mark Moore of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Over the previous two decades, staff and students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where Moore taught, engaged in conversations about producing excellence in public management.

“Public value refers to the value created by the government through laws, regulations, services and any other action. In a democratic society, this value is defined by the public themselves. Value is determined by citizens preferences expressed in a variety of ways and thus it provides a rough yard stick against which to gauge the public institutions and government policies.”

A seminal figure in the field of public management, Mark Moore presents his summation of fifteen years of research, observation, and teaching about what public sector executives should do to improve the performance of public enterprises.

Useful for both practising public executives and those who teach them, this book explicates some of the richest of several hundred cases used at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and illuminates their broader lessons for government managers.

Moore addresses four questions that have long bedevilled public administration: What should citizens and their representatives expect and demand from public executives? What sources can public managers consult to learn what is valuable for them to produce? How should public managers cope with inconsistent and fickle political mandates? How can public managers find room to innovate?

Moore’s answers respond to the well-understood difficulties of managing public enterprises in modern society by recommending specific, concrete changes in the practices of individual public managers: how they envision what is valuable to produce, how they engage their political overseers, and how they deliver services and fulfil obligations to clients.

Following Moore’s cases, we witness dilemmas faced by a cross-section of public managers from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Youth Services, the Park Plaza Redevelopment Project, the swine flu scare, the Houston Police Department, and the Boston Housing Authority. Their work and Moore’s analysis reveal how public managers can achieve their true goal of producing public value.


Moore, M. (1995) Creating Public Value: Strategic management in government. Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States: Harvard University Press.

Read Chapter 3 (source Harvard University Education)

Moore Mark. Organizational Strategy in the Public Sector In Creating Public Value Strat... 57102


This publication is part of Ecosystem City: Lessons from the Forest

Thinking in Systems

Donella Meadows, Diana Wright (ed.) | 2008

In the years following her role as the lead author of the International bestseller, Limits to Growth – the first book to show the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet – Donella Meadows remained a pioneer of environmental and social analysis until her untimely death in 2001.

“So, what is a system? A system is a set of things—people, cells, molecules, or whatever—interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time. The system may be buffeted, constricted, triggered, or driven by outside forces. But the system’s response to these forces is characteristic of itself, and that response is seldom simple in the real world.”

– Donella Meadows (2008)

Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institutes Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.

Some of the biggest problems facing the world-war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation-are essentially system failures. they cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking. While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology.

“Managers are not confronted with problems that are independent of each other, but with dynamic situations that consist of complex systems of changing problems that interact with each other. I call such situations messes. . . . Managers do not solve problems, they manage messes.”

– Russel L. Ackoff (1979)

Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner. In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.


Ackoff, R. (1979) ‘The Future of Operational Research Is Past’. Journal of the Operational Research Society 30, no. 2: 93–104.

Meadows, D. (Wright, D. ed) (2008) Thinking in Systems. Vermont, US: Chelsea Green Publishing Co.

This publication is part of Ecosystem City: Lessons from the Forest

Systems Thinking for Curious Managers

Russell L. Ackoff | 2009

This gem of a book introduces the extraordinary world of systems thinking and its ‘Dean’, Russell L. Ackoff, to curious and enquiring managers, teachers, business people – anyone, anywhere who works in an organisation.

Finished just before Professor Ackoff’s death late in 2009, “Systems Thinking for Curious Managers” opens the door to a joined-up way of thinking about things that have profoundly influenced thinkers and doers in the fields of business, politics, economics, biology, and psychology.

Although Systems Thinking was ‘invented’ early in the 20th century, even the 1990 Peter Senge’s best-selling The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (Systems Thinking is the fifth discipline) failed to popularise the term.

But now, in business and academia, in the public sector and in the search for solutions to the environmental problems we face, systems thinking is being talked about everywhere. In the same way, it’s only since his death in 2009 that management thinker, writer and guru Russell Ackoff has achieved the reputation he deserves.

This timely book presents 40 more of Russ Ackoff’s famously witty and incisive f-Laws (or flaws) of business – following on from his 2007 collection “Management f-Laws”. In this collection, find out:

  1. Why is it better to dissolve a problem than solve it?
  2. The best place to begin an intellectual, strategic or planning ‘journey’.
  3. Russ Ackoff’s contribution to the discussion on how organisations can best bring about ‘continuous improvement’…
  4. … and his thoughts on benchmarking.
  5. The relationship between consensus and agreement… and how best to reach agreement.
  6. What makes a successful business author.
  7. And much more besides…

The book also includes:

  1. The 81 f-LAWS from the first collection (just the f-LAWS, not Russ’s commentary or Sally Bibb’s responses)
  2. An extended essay written by Andrew Carey (and edited and approved by Russ Ackoff) which presents a thumbnail sketch of Ackoff’s approach to Systems Thinking and Interactive Design and ties them in to his collection of f-LAWS. For anyone new to Ackoff’s work or simply looking for a handy introduction to Systems Thinking in organisations, this is the ideal starting point. Separate sections cover:
    • Systems Thinking in the Crossfire Definitions
    • The Feedback Loop
    • Tropisms
    • Self-Organisation
    • Interconnectedness
    • Equifinality
    • Events vs Systems
    • Parts vs the Whole
    • Mess
    • Analysis vs Synthesis
    • Failure to Learn
    • Change
    • Aims and Intentions
    • People

All those in this collection are new and previously unpublished. Andrew Carey’s extended introduction ties these f-Laws into the rest of Ackoff’s work and gives the reader new to Systems Thinking a practical guide to the implications of Systems Thinking for organisations and managers. The Foreword by Jamshid Gharajedaghi is a moving tribute from Ackoff’s friend and business partner of many years.


Ackoff, R, Addison, H and Carey, A  (2009) Systems Thinking for Curious Managers. Charmouth Dorset, United Kingdom: Triarchy Press.

Senge, P. (1990) The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. London: Random House UK.

Picture: © Jack Kruf (2021) System fibers. Breda: Private collection.

This publication is part of Ecosystem City: Lessons from the Forest

Comparative risk analysis of technological hazards (a review)

Robert W. Kates and Jeanne X. Kasperson | 1983

Hazards are threats to people and what they value and risks are measures of hazards. Comparative analyses of the risks and hazards of technology can be dated to Starr (1969) but are rooted in recent trends in the evolution of technology, the identification of hazard, the perception of risk, and the activities of society.

These trends have spawned an interdisciplinary quasi profession with new terminology, methodology, and literature. A review of 54 English-language monographs and book-length collections, published between 1970 and 1983, identified seven recurring themes:

  1. overviews of the field of risk assessment
  2. efforts to estimate and quantify risk
  3. discussions of risk acceptability
  4. perception
  5. analyses of regulation
  6. case studies of specific technological hazards
  7. agenda for research

Within this field, science occupies a unique niche, for many technological hazards transcend the realm of ordinary experience and require expert study. Scientists can make unique contributions to each area of hazard management but their primary contribution is the practice of basic science.

Hazards are threats to people and what they value and risks are measures of hazards.

Beyond that, science needs to further risk assessment by understanding the more subtle processes of hazard creation and by establishing conventions for estimating risk and for presenting and handling uncertainty.

Scientists can enlighten the discussion of tolerable risk by setting risks into comparative contexts, by studying the process of evaluation, and by participating as knowledgeable individuals, but they cannot decide the issue. Science can inform the hazard management process by broadening the range of alternative control actions and modes of implementation and by devising methods to evaluate their effectiveness.

Read essay.


Starr, C. (1969) Science 165, 1232-1238.

This publication is part of the web-book Public Risk Canon

Surroundings: A History of Environments and Environmentalisms

Etienne S. Benson

Given the ubiquity of environmental rhetoric in the modern world, it’s easy to think that the meaning of the terms environment and environmentalism are and always have been self-evident.  But in Surroundings, we learn that the environmental past is much more complex than it seems at first glance. In this wide-ranging history of the concept, Etienne S. Benson uncovers the diversity of forms that environmentalism has taken over the last two centuries and opens our eyes to the promising new varieties of environmentalism that are emerging today.

Through a series of richly contextualized case studies, Benson shows us how and why particular groups of people—from naturalists in Napoleonic France in the 1790s to global climate change activists today—adopted the concept of environment and adapted it to their specific needs and challenges. Bold and deeply researched, Surroundings challenges much of what we think we know about what an environment is, why we should care about it, and how we can protect it.

Visit website of Etienne Benson.