Behavioral and experimental approaches for participatory DMDU

A glimpse into one session of the upcoming 2020 DMDU Meeting

By Edmundo Molina

We have all encountered that peculiar situation. You spend countless sleepless nights running the simulation experiments, processing workshop notes, and enduring meeting after meeting of constructive feedback with your peers and clients. Then, the big day arrives: you present the results of DMDU work to actual decision-makers. The stakes could not be any higher.  People -real people- are going to use your work. The meeting starts well; fresh coffee fuels enthusiasm among participants in the morning, then, after a few hours, energy starts dissipating. Luckily you have arrived at that “beautiful” graph – the graph you have spent so much time developing- which in your view is nothing other than a masterpiece that synthetizes perfectly key information to make robust and sound decisions. You are certain this graph is going to save the workshop, you explain it in detail- your passion is noticeable from miles away- then, as you finish your explanation, you dare to look around the room and, aside from the front-row enthusiasts, in the far corner of the room, one of the stakeholders is falling asleep.

In all seriousness, interacting successfully with stakeholders in a DMDU exercise is a huge challenge, and we are often left wondering if there might be better ways of doing it. In many cases, stakeholder interaction is key to structure the study.  Additionally, we often face the task of presenting complex and detailed information to heterogeneous groups of participants in a fairly limited amount of time. Thus it has become important to understand how to avoid biases in decision structuring workshops and how to transfer lessons of the study in a way that key messages are effectively absorbed by stakeholders. More importantly, we need to generate scientific evidence that can help guide our judgment on how we approach these interactions.

If you are interested in understanding how to best approach these types of situations, then you will be glad to know that in this year’s annual meeting, we will be hosting a session on “Behavioral and experimental approaches for participatory DMDU”.

In this session, Michael Germeraad, Dave Vautin and Raleigh McCoy will present their work on Horizon, a two-year stakeholder-led planning process in which they used serious-gaming and novel data visualization techniques to communicate the complexities of San Francisco Bay Area’s planning process. Adrian Vargas and Pablo Ignacio Soto-Mota will discuss their research on experiments they have implemented to understand the psychological phenomenon known as “diffusion of responsibility”.  Marcos Canales, Juan Carlos Castilla-Rho and Sebastián Vicuña will share with us their work on participatory modelling processes that combine Fuzzy Cognitive Maps (FCMs) from multiple participatory virtual stakeholder workshops with the EMA workbench to subject stakeholder FCMs to formal robust decision making (RDM) analyses. Finally, Yosune Miquelajauregui and Luis Bojorquez-Tapia will share their work on developing a capacity building program which incorporates DMDU principles, methods and tools needed to develop the essential competencies for effective multi-stakeholder engagement among various groups, including graduate students, citizens, authorities, consultants and technical experts.


About this Blog Post:

This blog post is part of a series of posts contributed by the chairs of the 2020 DMDU Annual Meeting. For more information about the Annual Meeting, including registration, visit our website at We hope to (virtually) see you soon!

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