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Among the Energy Tribes: A Cultural Framework for the Analysis and Design of Energy Policy

Michael Thompson
Policy Sciences
Vol. 17, No. 3, The IIASA Energy Study (Nov., 1984), pp. 321-339
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4532027
Page Count: 19
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Among the Energy Tribes: A Cultural Framework for the Analysis and Design of Energy Policy
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Abstract

My four years at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) have provided the opportunity for some participant observation among the Energy Tribes. The uncertainties that envelop trends in energy supply and demand are so wide that the exploratory mode (asking "What would you like the facts to be?") turns out to be more rewarding than the adversary mode (asking "What are the facts?"). The three Energy Tribes are distinguished by their three contradictory scenarios: "Business as Usual," "Middle of the Road" and "Radical Change Now." Each scenario sets very different bounds on what is credible and incredible, possible and impossible, sensible and foolish, rational and irrational. More often than not, the name of any particular tribe turns out to mean simply "the people" in the language of that tribe. Each tribe, seeing itself as the repository of everything that is human, consigns all the others to a sort of unmenschionable limbo. That, in essence, is what has happened in energy policy analysis.

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