A Social Learning Framework for a Wicked Problem: The Case of Energy

  • Gilles Paquet


Wicked problems in policy research have two characteristics: (1) the goals are unknown or very ambiguous and (2) the means-ends relationships are highly uncertain and poorly understood. This paper suggests that energy policy poses a wicked problem and that traditional methods of policy research are therefore inadequate when they are applied in this domain. An alternative approach based on social learning is proposed. Some discussion of the four components of such an approach is presented and an evaluation of a recent exercise in policy research in Canada The Energy Options Process - is presented in the light of what a social learning approach would require. It is shown that the Energy Options Process has failed to live up to the expectations it has created.