Evaluating the Outcomes of Collaborative Modeling for Decision Support


  • Paper No. JAWRA-12-0043-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.


Does collaborative modeling improve water resource management outcomes? How does collaborative modeling improve these outcomes? Does it always work? Under what conditions is collaborative modeling most appropriate? With support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Institute for Water Resources (IWR), researchers developed an evaluation framework to help address these questions. The framework links the effects of collaborative modeling on decision-making processes with improvements in the extent to which resource management decisions, practices, and policies balance societal needs. Both practitioners' and participants' experiences suggest that under the right circumstances, collaborative modeling can generate these beneficial outcomes. Researchers developed performance measures and a survey to systematically capture these experiences and evaluate the outcomes of collaborative modeling processes. The survey can provide immediate feedback during a project to determine whether collaborative modeling is having the desired effect and whether course correction is warranted. Over the longer term, the systematic evaluation of collaborative modeling processes will help demonstrate in what ways and under what circumstances collaborative modeling is effective, inform and improve best practices, and raise awareness among water resource planners regarding the use of collaborative modeling for resource management decisions.