Environmental Engineering Reference
environmental and agricultural models widely used for policy impact assessment.
Both issues point at unsolved theoretical and methodological challenges concerning
standardised ex-ante institutional analysis of policies.
In this chapter, we introduce a formalised procedure for modelling - ex-ante
- institutional aspects for policy implementation: the Procedure for Institutional
Compatibility Assessment (PICA). It has recently been developed in the frame of
the SEAMLESS project that conducts research in the field of agri-environmental
policy impact assessment. In this project, an ambitious integrative modelling
framework for ex-ante assessment of policy impacts on sustainable develop-
ment has been created. Here, the 'SEAMLESS-Integrated Framework' has
been designed not only to assess the policies' likely impacts on environmen-
tal, economic, and social systems, but it also has to provide indications on whether
a policy under scrutiny is feasible from an institutional perspective and, thus,
can be expected to become effective (van Ittersum et al. 2008) . In this context,
PICA has been developed as an explorative and flexible, yet formalised
methodology to assess the compatibility between policy options 1 and various
Further theoretical and methodological development of the PICA approach
should also provide a vision of how to cope with a number of unsolved problems
inherent in the analysis of institutions for sustainable resource use. Such prob-
lematic issues may encompass examinations of the incentive structure faced by
individuals in different decision-making contexts, bounded rational behaviour,
informal institutions as an important part of the institutional environment, and
the complexity of transactions related to nature. PICA is still work in progress; it
has been tested in the Auvergne and in Midi-Pyrénées (France) to gain more
insights for modifying and refining the method (Amblard et al. 2008a, b ; Schleyer
et al. 2007b) .
Yet, PICA needs to be further developed and the resulting concept tested as a
validated and innovative means to cope with these problems and to serve the
theoretical and methodological needs.
Following an overview about prominent approaches for policy assessment, we
outline the basic assumptions leading to the concept of institutional compatibility
we use in this chapter. We elaborate on all four distinct steps of PICA, while in the
subsequent section we focus on PICA Step 1: the classification system to derive
distinct policy types. PICA Step 1 is a crucial and the most generic step within
the procedure determining the focus of the subsequent steps. Then, we illustrate
different modes of action of the procedure using particular elements of the EU
Nitrate Directive as a policy example. In the concluding section, we discuss the
functions of PICA within the SEAMLESS-Integrated Framework.
1 We conceive policy options as (sets of) policy instruments that a policy maker intends to implement
to reach a (set of) policy objectives ; i.e., the policy instruments are not implemented at the time of