Contributions to the Research on Risk Attenuation, Risk Amplification, Trust, and Stakeholder Involvement Implications of an uncertainty-based risk perspective
MetadataVis full innførsel
- PhD theses (TN-IØRP) 
OriginalversjonContributions to the Research on Risk Attenuation, Risk Amplification, Trust, and Stakeholder Involvement Implications of an uncertainty-based risk perspective by Lisbet Fjæran, Stavanger : University of Stavanger, 2021 (PhD thesis UiS, no. 569)
The overall objective of this thesis is to contribute to the development of new knowledge related to risk perception and communication, particularly emphasising the issues of risk attenuation, risk amplification, trust, and stakeholder involvement. The thesis consists of five papers (Part II) and an introductory part (Part I). The main elements of the thesis research are illustrated in Figure 1, which indicates that new knowledge is developed by using an uncertainty-based perspective on risk and enhancing the Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF). ‘Risk perspective’ relates to how to understand and characterize risk. Traditionally, the perspective on professional risk assessments and characterisations in risk perception and communication research has to a large extent been based on risk being equated with historical data and probabilities. Following contemporary risk science, this thinking is replaced by perspectives highlighting uncertainties and knowledge aspects beyond probabilities and related quantitative concepts. Such perspectives are referred to as uncertainty-based and provide a new pillar for conducting risk perception and communication research. The SARF is one of the most recognized frameworks in risk research. It provides a conceptual model and approach for understanding how risks and risk events assessed by experts as low or minor risks can still end up generating considerable public concern and amplification or have the opposite effects, leading to risk attenuation. It shows how risk amplification or attenuation can generate ripples of unexpected and farreaching effects spreading the impacts of the initial risk event away from where it originally took place. This thesis establishes new knowledge related to the basic ideas of the SARF, and an extended version of the SARF is developed and discussed as part of the work. These developments are built on and shaped by the uncertainty-based perspectives on risk as well as research on risk attenuation, the dynamic nature of risk amplification and attenuation, and trust. Figure 2 depicts the main topics and contributions of this research as well as work concerning stakeholders and involvement issues. The work conducted as part of this thesis illustrates the dynamic nature of risk amplification and attenuation processes and shows how these concepts should be understood as two forces constantly in play. However, depending on which actors and stakeholders are the most active or dominating at different points of time, the ‘power’ of these forces fluctuates. Based on these fluctuations, risks can be described as going through various phases characterized by attenuation or amplification through their ‘course of life’. Where most SARF research centres around the ‘consequential end of things’, this work revolves around the early history of risks and studies practices of the first actors ‘in touch’ with the risks. Focusing on the scientific risk assessor in risk development processes, the work attempts to make visible the less researched and less visible phases preceding amplification. An important finding in the work is that the amplification caused by many risks and risk events, the kind described by much SARF-research, can to a large extent be seen as a result of previous risk attenuation. Based on the findings and insights following from the research, an extension of the SARF covering phases of attenuation is proposed to allow for more comprehensive analyses using the framework. In addition, the work provides suggestions for avoiding risk attenuation in order to prevent it from spreading and reduce the associated effects and consequences. Across the papers, how this can be achieved is explored in different ways using an uncertainty-based risk perspective as a conceptual platform and point of departure for the work of those in charge of assessing risks, but also for those managing risks. For instance, it is shown how this entails approaching distrust from a different angle than the way it is usually understood in society. The research challenges the prevailing idea of trust as an ideal state of affairs and distrust as the opposite—namely, as a complicating factor and negative situation. The work presents the complexity of the trust concept and argues for the importance of approaching what is commonly called distrust as a potential resource. It shows the value of building critical trust into risk assessment, management, and communication processes. The research also shows that different actors and stakeholders rely on different types of knowledge and emphasise different aspects of risk when understanding and making judgements about risk. For stakeholder involvement to be effective, a common conceptual basis for the actors involved is required. It is argued that an uncertainty-based risk perspective can provide such a foundation. It not only represents a broad understanding of risk, but also entails an extended understanding of knowledge, allowing for the increased integration of stakeholders and their knowledge, concerns, and values in the early framing, assessing, and evaluating of risks. This research is oriented toward foundational concepts and builds on real-life examples. However, further work is needed to show the practical relevance and potential impacts of the research. In particular, the thesis points to the need for larger-scale testing of the concepts and ideas developed as part of this thesis.
PhD thesis in Risk management and societal safety
Består avPaper 1: Fjæran, L., & Aven, T. (2017). Do non-governmental organizations relate to risks and uncertainties in an extreme manner? In M. Čepin, & R. Bris (Eds.), Safety & reliability, theory and applications. Proceedings of the European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL) (pp. 1827–1833). CRC Press.
Paper 2: Fjæran, L., & Aven, T. (2019). Effective stakeholder involvement requires a common understanding of the risk concept. In Proceedings of the 29th European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL) (pp. 171– 179). Research Publishing Services.
Paper 3: Fjæran, L & Aven, T. (2019). Making visible the less visible - how the use of an uncertainty-based risk perspective affects risk attenuation and risk amplification. Journal of Risk Research, 1-19. This paper is not included in Brage for copyright reasons.
Paper 4: Fjæran, L., & Aven, T. (2021). Creating conditions for critical trust—how an uncertainty-based risk perspective relates to dimensions and types of trust. Safety Science, 133, 1–12.
Paper 5: Fjæran, L., & Aven, T. (2020). The games and dynamics of the social amplification and attenuation of risk. Risk Analysis. [submitted]
UtgiverUniversity of Stavanger, Norway
SeriePhD thesis UiS;