Path dependence and paradigm shift: How Cetacean scientists learned to develop management procedures that survived the controversial Whaling regime

Atsushi Ishii, Ayako Okubo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The transformation of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) into a preservationist regime met with extremely fierce opposition from the prowhaling countries and created an unprecedented and famous polarization of the IWC parties into pro and antiwhaling camps, which can be observed even today. In such a bipolar and harsh process, it would be typically argued that scientific advice would be powerless because it would become subject to heightened scrutiny from both camps resulting in endless technical debate. Our case shows that, on the contrary, the advisory scientists learned to successfully develop a scientific management procedure that was accepted by both the pro and antiwhaling camps. The objective of this paper is to explain this process and examine to what extent collective learning in the assessment process affected the political effectiveness of the management procedure and, more broadly thereby, to contribute to the groundwork of analyzing how the scientists participating in the scientific assessments collectively learn. With a view to cross-fertilization between institutionalism and science and technology study (STS) approaches, we develop an analytical framework and apply it to the international whaling regime to examine the usefulness of it and provide some general lessons to be learned for making learning assessments more effective. The framework was capable of showing that path dependency and paradigm shift were among the key factors of the scientific assessment's increased effectiveness. Overall, the cross-fertilization between institutionalism and STS appears to be a fruitful way forward for the next generation of scientific assessment studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-280
Number of pages24
JournalReview of Policy Research
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul

Keywords

  • Developed countries
  • Environment
  • Governance
  • International governance
  • International whaling commission (IWC)
  • Science policy
  • Whales
  • Whaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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