Strengths and limitations

Typical strengths of PRIMA are:

  • The major innovative feature is to see pluralism not as part of the problem, but as part of the solution. From that perspective, PRIMA is the only approach so far that advances and provides structure to the systematic use of multiple values, paradigms, perceptions, judgements, etc in assessment processes.
  • The major advantage of PRIMA is that more than one perspective made explicit is, in view of the inherent bias of interpretations of uncertainty better than an at first sight objective model with a hidden perspective.
  • The PRIMA approach is by definition a group process approach. An experienced spin-off is the interdisciplinary team-building potential, because the process (facilitated by an experienced facilitator) offers a safe environment to share what is usually regarded as 'non-knowledge'.

Typical weaknesses, pitfalls and limitations associated with PRIMA are:

  • PRIMA is in the first place a framework that aims to structure the process of perspective-based uncertainty management. Although it provides a logic for using existing tools and techniques in a complementary way, and while it proposes a novel approach (i.e. perspective-based model routes), PRIMA is not (and was never meant as) a rigid recipe.
  • Any interpretation of the (ideal types of) perspectives is to a certain degree subjective. The only advantage is that the use of stereotypes helps to make interpretations and structures of argumentation at least more explicit.
  • In the prototypical versions (TARGETS, water management) the perspectives from Cultural Theory have been used. This theory has received (and still receives) strong criticism. Cultural theory has been criticised for [11] (see, for example, Trisoglio, 1995):
    • providing an oversimplification of reality;
    • being too static in time and place (in reality one can be a hierarchist at work, a fatalist in leisure time, and an egalitarian at home);
    • undue universal claims (whereas, in reality, one can for instance act as a hierarchist when confronted with one problem and as an egalitarian when confronted with another problem) ;
    • not taking account of complex systems of myths of nature.
      However, alternative social scientific theories/perspective frameworks that are both sound and have the same strengths are not available.
  • Methods for articulating perspectives of real actors or from behavioural patterns are underresearched and underdeveloped.
  • Because of the previous two bullets the key weakness of PRIMA is the perspective framework used.
  • As with all scenario exercises, another limitation is that almost no explicit heuristics/approaches/methods have been developed for how to arrive insights from a set of fundamentally different outcomes / futures. That is a general weakness of Integrated Assessment.

[11] It is important to realize that especially in the United States Cultural Theory is also criticized because of the controversial political role and standpoints of one of the founding fathers of Cultural Theory, i.e. Wildavsky.