Evaluating the impact of HIA on urban reconstruction decision-making: Who manages whose risks?
Practitioners and academic researchers increasingly look to evaluation of health impact assessment (HIA) to improve its practice, its efficiency and its legitimacy. Evaluation is also used to account to policy-makers, who express doubts that the benefits of HIA justify its costs. Until recently evaluation of HIA focused on instrument design and procedures but now the focus needs to shift to analysis of the interaction of HIA and decision-making. Multiple case studies have been applied to identify the conditions in which HIA produces the desired benefits. These studies used analytical concepts derived from the literature on evaluation, knowledge utilization, science of sociology and knowledge management. This paper describes a case study in which the strategic motives of the decision-makers affected the impact of an HIA. This HIA comprised of a quantitative environmental model dCity & EnvironmentT that was used to assess environmental health impacts of an urban reconstruction plan in a Dutch city. The evaluation of the HIA shows that the decision to follow the recommendations of the HIAwas part of a damage control strategy. The more HIA goals deviate from the policy problem and the less HIA is embedded in institutional procedures, then the more HIA impact will be subject to strategic decisionmaking behaviour. Appropriate cognitive and social strategies are needed to avoid 'negative learning' in those the HIA seeks to influence