Technical Information and Policy Choice: The Case of the Resource Recovery Nondecision

Barry Bozeman, J. Lisle Bozeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Innovation is only one of a range of public policy responses to social and technological novelty and is not necessarily the most appropriate response. While a number of case studies have provided information about determinants of innovation and have traced processes leading to the adoption of innovation, there has been little attention given to the processes that lead to the rejection, deferral or avoidance of available innovations. This paper examines the technical and political controversy surrounding a proposed resource recovery steam plant in metropolitan Syracuse, New York. Although a report on solid waste management had been prepared in 1969 and a dozen consulting studies authorized over the next decade, by 1981 no decision had been reached. In analyzing twelve years of ‘nondecision’, this study seeks to examine some of the difficulties of using technical information in complex policy problems. The case highlights a number of issues pertaining to the use of information in technology policy including: (1) the role of scientific and technical information in policymaking; (2) the interplay between technical information and political values, and (3) the reciprocal effects of information resources and decision processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-267
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Public Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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