The use of Delphi methodology in agrifood policy development: Some lessons learned

Frewer, L.J., Fischer, A.R.H., Wentholt, M.T.A., Marvin, H.J.P., Ooms, B.W., Coles, David orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4774-4800 and Rowe, G. (2011) The use of Delphi methodology in agrifood policy development: Some lessons learned. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 78 (9). pp. 1514-1525. ISSN 00401625

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Developing policy in the agrifood area is an inexact process, usually relying upon effective integration of opinions from multiple experts from different disciplines, organisational types, and regions/countries. Delphi would appear to have the potential to overcome some of the typical limitations related to soliciting expert opinion and identifying consensus on future activities or options, particularly where relevant experts are dispersed geographically, and international consensus is required, as is the case in this domain. Three case studies, focused on the application of Delphi to emerging policy needs in international or European agrifood policy, are presented here to exemplify the utility of the technique. A number of practical recommendations are drawn from these case studies that may be applicable to other major policy making arenas. Among these recommendations are; that an exploratory workshop to refine round one Delphi questions is essential; that the implementation of cascade methodology (utilizing the personal contacts of researchers or members of existing policy networks) appears to increase response rates in subsequent Delphi rounds; and that the policy issue under discussion should be particularly relevant to stakeholders in order to increase participation rates. Further research might usefully focus on developing ways to incorporate measurements of uncertainty associated with stakeholder judgement into quantitative responses, and on establishing how best to utilise such information in feedback in subsequent Delphi rounds. Ensuring how best to inform policy uptake of the outputs of Delphi merits further research in particular.

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