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Risk Communication as Government Agency Organizational Practice

Journal article
Authors Åsa Boholm
Published in Risk Analysis
Volume 39
Issue 8
Pages 1695-1707
ISSN 0272-4332
Publication year 2019
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Pages 1695-1707
Language en
Keywords government agencies; practitioners; regulation
Subject categories Social Anthropology


The dynamics of organizational risk communication is an understudied topic in risk research. This article investigates how public officials at six government agencies in Sweden understand and relate to risk communication and its uses in the context of agency organizational work on policy and regulation. Qualitative interviews were used to explore the practitioners’ views on some key topics in the academic literature on risk communication. A main finding is that there is little consensus on what the goals of risk communication are; if, and how, uncertainty should be communicated; and what role is to be played by transparency in risk communication. However, the practitioners agree that dissemination (top down) to the public of robust scientific and expert knowledge is a crucial element. Dialogue and participation is used mainly with other agencies and elite stakeholders with whom agencies collaborate to implement policy goals. Dialogue with the public on issues of risk is very limited. Some implications of the findings for the practice of risk communication by government agencies are suggested.

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