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2011-01-31 | Policy Brief

Risk Ranking

Xu, Jianhua. 2010. Risk Ranking. College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University University.
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In previous research, a deliberative process for integrating stakeholder perspectives in the ranking of risks was introduced and empirically tested with lay groups composed predominantly of Americans.

In this paper, we explore the viability of this process with lay groups of Chinese, because previous research has shown that Americans and Chinese differ substantially along many dimensions of cognition and hsocial organization relevant to decision making. Using ten environmental hazards based on current Chinese environmental regulatory programs as the risk domain, five groups of 8–9 participants ranked hazards using both holistic and multi-attribute approaches. Results show that (1) risk rankings from the holistic and multi-attribute approaches are consistant, (2) participants indicate that they are satisfied with the procedures and resulting rankings, and (3) agreement between participants increases over the course of the ranking exercise. Results for Chinese participants were compared with previously reported results for Americans, to look for cultural effects involving deference to technical expertise and quantitative analysis, and skepticism toward public participation in policy making. Although there were some hints of cultural differences, neither difference significantly affected measures of the method’s validity or replicability. Because this process offers a scientifically sound and measured approach to stakeholder involvement in risk management, it may be attractive to Chinese leaders as they respond to growing demand for public participation in the policy making process. Whether Chinese citizens would consider the process described here to be satisfactory in a real policy context remains to be tested.