The Equity and Justice (EQU) Research Group has developed a number of decision-support and process-oriented methods. These tools help stakeholders and policy-makers make sense of the complex governance landscape, while clarifying trade-offs and synergies associated with alternative policy options. 

The engagement of public stakeholders is increasingly seen as an integral part of policy-making. By enhancing public awareness and bringing new and locally-oriented options to light, stakeholder processes can delineate the space for agreement or compromise, thereby enhancing the credibility and longer-term support for public policies.

Plural Rationality Approach (PRA)

Combining institutional mapping, semi-structured stakeholder interviews, and face-to-face deliberation, the PRA provides a structured diagnosis of complex policy issues and offers a step-by-step approach to stakeholder facilitation and policy co-designing.

Based on the Theory of Plural Rationality (TPR), this approach clarifies alternative (and often conflicting) stakeholder preferences supporting or opposing policy options/instruments. These arise due to deep-seated differences in "world views" – i.e. socially constructed beliefs as to how and to what extent individual choices should be restricted according to group norms and established rules. The PRA guides decision-makers and researchers through pluralistic policy-making, with an ultimate aim towards designing a socially-robust policy package that combines authoritative control, market incentives, and bottom-up collaboration. 


  • PRA has been used in a number of cases such as SafeLand.
  • In 2017, the Water-Food-Energy Nexus Game was developed as part of a SE4 all/UNDP-CAPNET initiative to raise awareness of the decision-making complexity surrounding water-food-energy nexus issues.

Wierzbicki, A. (1985). Negotiation and mediation in conflicts: II. Plural rationality and interactive decision processes. In: Plural Rationality and Interactive Decision Processes. pp. 114-131 Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. ISBN 978-3-662-02432-4 10.1007/978-3-662-02432-4_9.

Beck, M.B., Gyawali, D., & Thompson, M. (2018). Societal Drivers of Food and Water Systems 2: Applying Plural Rationality to Some Wicked Problems. In: The Oxford Handbook of Food, Water and Society. Eds. Allan, T., Bromwich, B., Colman, A., & Keulertz, M., Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-066979-9 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190669799.013.62.