Managing Wicked Environmental Problems

  • Peter J. BalintEmail author
  • Ronald E. Stewart
  • Anand Desai
  • Lawrence C. Walters


In  chapter 1, we briefly mentioned some historical factors that may contribute to the transformation of complicated problems into wicked problems. These include broad, structural socioeconomic and demographic changes and also more immediate triggering events that polarize public debate and shift the political dynamics of environmental management dilemmas. Here we explore these themes in more detail. We also present and discuss three take-home lessons for public managers. We suggest that a public manager facing a wicked problem should (1) stop looking for the perfect solution; (2) seek instead a satisficingresponse; and (3) consider applying the iterative, analytic, adaptive, participatory process described in this book (particularly in  chapters 6 9).


Public Manager Wicked Problem Preference Elicitation Public Input Perfect Solution 
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  1. Judt, Tony. 2005. Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  2. Kraft, Michael E., and Norman J. Vig. 2010. “Environmental Policy over Four Decades: Achievements and New Directions.” In Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century, 7th ed., edited by Norman J. Vig and Michael E. Kraft, 1–27. Washington, DC: CQ Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Island Press 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Balint
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ronald E. Stewart
    • 2
  • Anand Desai
    • 3
  • Lawrence C. Walters
    • 4
  1. 1.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  3. 3.Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  4. 4.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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