Wicked Problems



Wicked Problem

The environmental problems we are facing now are Wicked Problems. Rittel and Webber first described complex issues using the term ‘Wicked Problems’. They developed 10 criteria to describe a Wicked Problem. (see text box) Global warming can’t be perceived, for example, as just an environmental issue; it incorporates various problems like social issues and economic and political problems, as well. This is the case for environmental problems as Rittel and Webber described Wicked Problems to be ‘a symptom of another problem’. These grand societal challenges are so complex that one person or discipline can’t solve them; it requires cooperation. The position of Wicked Problems therefore succinctly describe the context in which must consider the ecology and I apply this framework to my research.

“1 It does not have one definite solution.
2 Wicked Problems have no stopping rule. It does not have an end point.
3 No true or false.
4 A possible solution for a wicked problem is generating new problems and is intertwined with other problems.
5 Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial-and-error, every attempt counts significantly.
6 It has various potential ways of addressing it.
7 All problems are unique and therefore not representable by a model.
8 A Wicked Problem could be considered a symptom of another problem.
9 A wicked problem has various explanations. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem’s resolution.
10 The planner has no right to be wrong.”
(Rittel and Webber, 1973, p.161-167)