Policy Instrument Selection under Uncertainty: The Case of Micropollution Regulation

Metz, Florence Alessa; Ingold, Karin (31 January 2014). Policy Instrument Selection under Uncertainty: The Case of Micropollution Regulation (Unpublished). In: Annual Meeting of the Swiss Political Science Association - Actors' network and local policies. Bern, Schweiz. 30.-31.01.2014.

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The paper addresses the question of which factors drive the formation of policy preferences when there are remaining uncertainties about the causes and effects of the problem at stake. To answer this question we examine policy preferences reducing aquatic micropollutants, a specific case of water protection policy and different actor groups (e.g. state, science, target groups). Here, we contrast two types of policy preferences: a) preventive or source-directed policies, which mitigate pollution in order to avoid contact with water; and b) reactive or end-of-pipe policies, which filter water already contaminated by pollutants. In a second step, we analyze the drivers for actors’ policy preferences by focusing on three sets of explanations, i.e. participation, affectedness and international collaborations. The analysis of our survey data, qualitative interviews and regression analysis of the Swiss political elite show that participation in the policy-making process leads to knowledge exchange and reduces uncertainties about the policy problem, which promotes preferences for preventive policies. Likewise, actors who are affected by the consequences of micropollutants, such as consumer or environmental associations, opt for anticipatory policies. Interestingly, we find that uncertainties about the effectiveness of preventive policies can promote preferences for end-of-pipe policies. While preventive measures often rely on (uncertain) behavioral changes of target groups, reactive policies are more reliable when it comes to fulfilling defined policy goals. Finally, we find that in a transboundary water management context, actors with international collaborations prefer policies that produce immediate and reliable outcomes.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Metz, Florence Alessa, Ingold, Karin Mirjam


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation


[UNSPECIFIED] How to explain instrument selection in complex policy processes, 105217_140395/1




Karin Mirjam Ingold Michel

Date Deposited:

10 Apr 2015 11:41

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:44

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Decision-making under uncertainty, Policy preferences, Water protection policy, Micropollutants



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