Introduction and Overview

  • Ragnar E. Löfstedt


Risk communication helps companies, governments and institutions minimize disputes, resolve issues and anticipate problems before they result in an irreversible breakdown in communications. Without good risk communication and good risk management, policy-makers have no road map to guide them through unforeseen problems which frequently derail the best policies and result in a breakdown in communications and a loss of trust among those they are trying hardest to persuade. Most policy-makers still use outdated methods — developed at a time before health scares such as BSE, genetically modified organisms and uranium-tipped shells eroded public confidence in industry and government — to communicate policies and achieve their objectives. Good risk communication is still possible, however. In this book, through the use of a host of case studies, I identify a series of methods that are being used in a post-trust society. That said, there is no such thing as a formula for risk communication. The same risk communication strategy may have different outcomes depending on the audience, the country, and context in which it is used. A strategy for managing risk in the USA, for example, may be wholly inappropriate in a European context.


Risk Management Risk Communication Public Trust Risk Management Strategy Antifouling Paint 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For a more detailed discussion regarding this example see Ragnar E. Löfstedt, ‘Risk and regulation: boat owners’ perceptions to recent anti-fouling legislation’, Risk Management an International Journal, 3:3 (2001), 33–46.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See for example, House of Lords, Select Committee on Science and Technology, Science and Society (London: The Stationery Office, 2001);Google Scholar
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    For a good discussion of this see Susan D. Pharr and Robert D. Putnam (eds), Disaffected Democracies: What’s Troubling the Trilateral Countries? (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Ronald Inglehart, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990);Google Scholar
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  18. 10.
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  25. 13.
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    Roderic M. Kramer and Tom R. Tyler, Trust in Organizations: Frontiers of Theory and Research (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996).Google Scholar
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    Timothy Earle and George Cvetkovich, Social Trust: Toward a Cosmopolitan Society (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995).Google Scholar
  29. 19.
    Ortwin Renn and Deborah Levine, ‘Credibility and trust in risk communication’, in Roger E. Kasperson and Peter Jan Stallen (eds), Communicating Risks to the Public: International Perspectives (Amsterdam: Kluwer, 1991).Google Scholar
  30. 21.
    Robert W. Hahn, (ed.), Risks, Costs and Lives Saved: Getting Better Results from Regulation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996);Google Scholar
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    For a good review see Paul Slovic, ‘Perception of risk’, Science, 236 (1987), 280–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    R. Brickman, S. Jasanoff and T. Ilgen, ‘Controlling Chemicals: The politics of regulation in Europe and the united states’ (Ithaca, Cornell University Press 1985); Kelman, Regulating Sweden, Regulating United States.Google Scholar
  34. 25.
    Ragnar E. Löfstedt, ‘Risk communication: The Barsebäck nuclear plant case’, Energy Policy, 24:8 (1996), 689–96; Slovic, ‘Perceived risk, trust and democracy’.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. It should be noted that these findings have been challenged by Lennart Sjöberg in his article, ‘Perceived competence and motivation in industry and government as factors in risk perception’, in George Cvetkovich and Ragnar E. Löfstedt (eds), Social Trust and the Management of Risk (London: Earthscan, 1999).Google Scholar
  36. 26.
    For an excellent discussion on this topic see Aaron Wildavsky, Searching for Safety (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1988).Google Scholar
  37. 27.
    See, for example, Chris Hohenemser, Roger E. Kasperson and Rober W. Kates, ‘The distrust of nuclear power’, Science, 196 (1977), 25–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 28.
    NRC, Understanding Risk; RCEP, Setting Environmental Standards. For good overviews on the findings in the trust literature please consult George Cvetkovich and Ragnar E. Löfstedt (eds), Social Trust and the Management of Risk (London: Earthscan, 1999);Google Scholar
  39. Earle and Cvetkovich, Social Trust: Toward a Cosmopolitan Society; Diego Gambetta, Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988);Google Scholar
  40. Roger E. Kasperson, Dominic Golding and Seth Tuler, ‘Siting hazardous facilities and communicating risks under conditions of high social distrust’, Journal of Social Issues, 48 (1992), 161–72;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. and Barbara A. Misztal, Trust in Modern Societies (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  42. 29.
    See for example, Richard J. Lazarus, ‘The tragedy of distrust in the implementation of federal environmental law’, Law and Contemporary Problems, 54 (1991), 311–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 30.
    Douglas Powell and William Leiss, Mad Cows and Mother’s Milk: The Perils of Poor Risk Communication (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  44. 31.
    An example of this was the recent ‘Ghost ship debacle’ in the UK. For a detailed discussion see Ragnar E. Löfstedt, How can better Risk Management lead to greater Public Trust in Canadian Institutions: Some Sobering lessons from Europe (London: King’s Centre for Risk Management, 2004).Google Scholar
  45. 32.
    See, for example, Ragnar E. Löfstedt, ‘Evaluation of two siting strategies: the case of two UK waste tyre incinerators’, Risk: Health Safety and Environment, 8:1 (1997), 63–77.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ragnar E. Löfstedt 2005

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  • Ragnar E. Löfstedt

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