Presented by Avery Poole and John Alford. In this seminar, we reflect critically on the concept of ‘wicked problems’, ask how it is used in academic teaching and research, and whether it still illuminates and has value for public policy practitioners.
Troubling Policy Seminar Series
Wicked Problems: Revisiting the Idea and its Role in the Making of Public Policy (A Discussion)
Presented by Dr Avery Poole and Professor John Alford
Walter Boas Building, 1pm
About the Event
In the field of public policy there is long-standing acknowledgement that some ‘problems’ are resistant to ‘solutions’. They may be highly complex, involve many moving parts and players, be constantly changing, and highly contested. They may even be ‘conditions’ which we muddle through rather than ‘problems’ which we solve. The revival and reworking of concepts such as ‘messy’ problems (Ackoff 1974, and Horn & Weber 2007), ‘wicked problems’ (Rittel & Webber 1973, Head & Alford 2008, and APSC 2007), and even ‘super-wicked problems’ (Levin et al. 2007 and 2012) have been developed to help engage with such realities. In this seminar, structured as a conversation, we will reflect critically on the concept of ‘wicked problems’, ask how it is used in academic teaching and research, and whether it still illuminates and has value for public policy practitioners.
Avery Poole is the Assistant Director of the Melbourne School of Government. Her research focuses on Southeast Asian regionalism and Australian engagement in the region.
John Alford is an honorary Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne School of Government, after a long career as a Professor of Public Management. Two of his books and several of his articles have won international awards. He is one of the earliest scholars writing on this topic.
Avery and John will be in conversation with each other and with seminar participants.
About the Series
The ‘Troubling Policy’ seminar series asks difficult questions about controversial or intractable policy challenges, seeks to find new ways of looking at these, and embraces insights from across disciplines. The series aims to explore the societal and political context in which policy is developed, including the knowledge/s and expertise used, the technologies deployed, how these combine to shape regulation, the relationship between controversy and the policy process, and the effectiveness (or otherwise) of policy implementation. The series is hosted by the Melbourne School of Government.