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RISCOM Model For Transparency

The Riscom model ensure that decision-makers and the public can validate claims of truth, legitimacy and authenticity.  It has emerged as an outcome of Habermas´ theory of communicative action and Stafford Beer’s organisational theory. It has been developed by Clas-Otto Wene and Raul Espejo in cooperation with Kjell Andersson.

The Riscom model

Technical/scientific issues can be clarified with scientific methods. They relate to questions like "Is this true?" or "Are we doing things right?

Normative issues reflect what is considered fair and acceptable in society, what is legitimate. In an expert dominated area, such as many technology driven fields, normative issues are often not openly explored. Instead they are discussed "under the surface", often hidden in expert investigation.

Authenticity builds trust; it has to do with consistency between the actions of a person (or an organization) and who the person (or organization) is, or the role in the decision-making context. If a stakeholder considers an organization to be authentic, he is more likely to trust its views and decisions, thus reducing his demands for technical details.

The Riscom model gives clarity and structure to the debate also in another sense. Decision processes must often deal with different levels of discussion. For example, in selecting a site for high level nuclear waste, the expert work at the ground level (geological investigation, risk assessment etc) takes place within a broader framework for managing the programme at the national level. However, the site selection programme itself depends on a waste management method decided at a higher societal level. The Riscom model can help in bringing order into the debate since claims of truth, legitimacy and authenticity are made at each level of debate.


• The first time the RISCOM Model was applied in a real decision-making context was when sites were selected for deep drilling in the Swedish programme for final disposal of high level nuclear waste. This was in 2001.  The report can be downloaded here. This report can be downloaded here (pdf)

• Transparency Forum (TF) was first proposed as a new concept at the 2002 summer school.

• Since June 2004, Karita Research is conducting a study on Transparent Remediation Projects on contract from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. The aim of the study, done in cooperation with Wenergy and  Kemakta Konsult, is to see how the Transparency Forum format can help to increase the quality in decision-making in that area. See TF applications.

• In a project funded by the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) and the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority (SSI),  Karita Research (Kjell Andersson) and IPU (Eskil Ullberg) develops  the concept further. In direct connection with this project, the first TF application takes form in the area of cellular phone systems. This is expected to start during the fall of 2004. 

• Most  recently the Riscom model has been further developed and tested in the European Union Riscom II Project, which dealt with transparency, risk assessment, organisational aspects and public participation processes in nuclear waste management. Full information can be downloaded here (pdf)

• A number of other areas are being explored as potential subjects of application, e.g. in biotechnology.