The policy-science nexus: An area for improved competence in leadership

Document type: Journal Articles
Article type: Original article
Peer reviewed: Yes
Full text:
Author(s): Karl-Henrik Robèrt
Title: The policy-science nexus: An area for improved competence in leadership
Journal: Sustainability: The Journal of Record
Year: 2012
Volume: 5
Issue: 3
Pagination: 165-171
ISSN: 1937-0695
Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert Inc.
URI/DOI: 10.1089/SUS.2012.9962
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Engineering - Dept. of Strategic Sustainable Development (Sektionen för ingenjörsvetenskap - Avd. för strategisk hållbar utveckling)
School of Engineering S- 371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Language: English
Abstract: It is a fantastic experience to understand basic principles for worthy goals together-across disciplinary, professional, and ideological boundaries-and to realize that we need each other in order to attain those goals. Conversely, it is sobering that so few of our leaders know how to build full sustainability into their decision making, and to shape their analyses, debates, action programs, stakeholder alliances, economies, and summit meetings accordingly. That deficiency is reflected in the questions put to scientists, who are often caught in the middle of conflicting policy proposals. On such occasions, empirical facts may be presented out of context and applied as arguments for alternative solutions: for or against the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, for or against nuclear power, etc. This results in attempts to deal with one issue at a time, often creating a new sustainability problem while "solving" another. Strategic planning toward sustainability is not something that you simply pick up as you go along, if only you are sufficiently engaged in public debate, have a certain field of expertise, or remain faithful to a certain ideology. What is needed today are decision makers who are open to learning the crucial competence of strategic planning and the language that goes with it-a language that makes multi-sectoral collaboration possible at the scale required for success. Only then can leaders make their leadership relevant, cooperate effectively across discipline and sector boundaries; and only then can they ask the relevant questions of scientists and other experts. This is not incompatible with a strong economy or with competitiveness. It is just the opposite: We are now experiencing increasing costs and lost opportunities due to lack of competence in strategic sustainable development. Such competence is not incompatible with the freedom to embrace different values and ideologies, or with the creative tensions that may arise from the confrontation of such values and ideologies with each other. On the contrary, the potential value of creative tensions increases when they are not rooted in lack of knowledge and misunderstandings.
Subject: Sustainability\General
Keywords: GEOBASE Subject Index: competitiveness; decision making; fossil fuel; nuclear power; stakeholder; sustainability; sustainable development