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COMMColloquium: Dominic Balog-Way

Friday, September 16, 2022 at 2:00pm to 3:30pm

Mann Library, 102
Cornell University Mann Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA


Hidden in Plain Sight: Why Transparent Risk Regulation Requires Effective Risk Communication

Dominic Balog-Way, Postdoctoral Associate, Communication, Cornell University

2pm in 102 Mann

Reception to follow in the Hub


In this talk, Dominic Balog-Way presents his 10-year research journey examining the concept of transparency in the regulation of risks to health, safety, and the environment, and its critical relationship with effective risk communication practice. First, he presents an original typology, which disambiguates what is being made transparent by risk regulators (objects), how (mechanisms), why (goals), and for whom (audiences). Second, he discusses results from two transparency policy experiments, conducted in the UK, Ireland, Germany, and Spain (N=400). The experimental results provide evidence that transparency policies can have positive effects— although they will not necessarily do so—can have severe unwanted effects, and must be balanced against tradeoffs. Third, he presents an in-depth case study examining the effectiveness of the transparency policies implemented by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU agency responsible for pharmaceuticals. The four case study methods are extensive historical and contemporary documentation; direct observations and interviews; and multi-national surveys (UK, France, Germany, Spain) of medical doctors and patients diagnosed with one of five medical conditions (HIV/AIDS, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis) (N=2,015). The results show that effective transparency requires understanding (1) the limits of full disclosure, (2) the desired quality of transparency for multiple audiences, (3) the capacity of expert and non-expert audiences to assess transparent information, and (4) the ability of intermediaries to re-package and communicate risk information effectively. More broadly, the case study shows that risk regulators routinely underappreciate that transparent risk regulation does not just benefit from but requires effective risk communication. Dominic concludes by discussing implications for risk communication research and policy.


Dr. Dominic Balog-Way is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Communication, Cornell University. His interdisciplinary research examines the assessment, management, and communication of risks to health, safety, and the environment. Working internationally and across sectors ranging from environmental protection and food safety to pharmaceuticals and public health, Dominic strives to improve public policy through evidence-informed risk management and strategic benefit-risk communication. He is currently working on projects regarding the use of lead ammunition for hunting, infectious marine diseases, and deep geothermal energy. Throughout his career, he has advised, and worked closely with, state, national, and international governments, as well as businesses, advocacy groups, and academics.

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