Svenska myndigheters kommunikation om risk: vad, hur och varför?
Risk communication by Swedish government agencies: what, how and why?
The paper investigates how public officials at six government agencies in Sweden approach risk communication in agency organizational work on policy and regulation. Qualitative interviews were used to explore practitioners’ views on key topics in the academic literature on risk communication. A main finding is that there is little consensus on what the goals of risk communication are; if, and how, uncertainty should be communicated; and what role is to be played by transparency in risk communication. Dissemination (top-down) to the public of robust scientific and expert knowledge is understood as a crucial element. The goals of communication are diverse and fragmented across and within agencies. Dialogue and participation is used mainly with other agencies and elite stakeholders with whom agencies collaborate to implement policy goals. Transparency is endorsed in theory, but ambivalent in practice, in particular in relation to adverse effects of perceived reputational damage and security threats. The findings suggest that government agencies need to exchange learning, views, and perspectives regarding key issues in risk communication and risk analysis across organizational boundaries. One implication from the findings is that the communication of uncertainty and how to work with transparency in practice need harmonization.