Groupe d’études et de recherche en analyse des décisions

Handling Complex Societal Problems

Dorien Detombe

The Compram method is a method for handling complex societal problems in a transparent and structured way. Handling in this case means analyzing, policymaking, decision making and guiding and evaluating the interventions. The Compram method is developed by DeTombe (1994). Most problem handling methods focus on a part of the problem handling process. The Compram method, however, focuses on the whole spectrum of the problem handling process.

Because of their complexity societal problems are difficult to handle. These problems have often a huge impact on society, because they involve a great number of phenomena and actors. Each actor has his or her own goals, interest and power. In a democracy handling these problems includes dealing with all the actors. In order to do this efficiently and fruitful these problems should be handled in cooperation with the actors. The Compram method guides this process from the moment the problem is put on the (political) agenda till the evaluation of the interventions. The Compram method distinguishes six steps in the problem handling process. For supporting this process it uses all kinds of supportive methods and tools. The method is based on the three basic elements in handling complex societal problems: knowledge, power and emotion. The Compram method can be applied for all kind of policy problems like transport, environmental, healthcare, poverty and unemployment problems. An example of the application of the method is given on handling the Aids problem in South Africa.