Recommendation 8.2: Building on earlier practice, social scientists should conduct research utilization studies involving knowledge on hazards and disasters produced by other research disciplines.

In their 1980s studies, Yin and his colleagues (Yin and Moore, 1985; Yin and Andranovitch, 1987) examined the utilization not only of social science knowledge on hazards and disasters, but also knowledge generated by physical scientists and engineers. The committee feels that it is essential for social scientists to continue this practice. First, social scientists have the methodological tools to carry out such research, perhaps even more so now than a generation ago. Second, more can be understood about the challenges of social science research utilization when they can be compared with the challenges facing disciplines such as earthquake engineering and earth science. Third, this practice could create opportunities for social scientists to engage in fruitful multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, as discussed in Chapter 5 of this report.

Recommendation 8.3: Cross-cultural research utilization studies should be pursued by social scientists. Such research could contribute to global understanding of knowledge dissemination and application.

As discussed in Chapter 6, disasters impact developed and developing countries alike. Stakeholders in all nations exposed to natural, technological, and willful hazards must make decisions about how to manage them. As in the United States, some of the decisions made in other countries are science based, while others are not.

With so many nations having variations in exposure to disaster risks, cross-cultural research on knowledge utilization is a promising area of inquiry, one that social scientists in the United States should pursue aggressively. Such research would provide an opportunity to test cross-culturally the principles of research utilization discussed earlier, determining their degree of universality. Also, through comparative analyses, approaches to research utilization in one country might be identified as relevant for consideration in another. Finally, cross-cultural studies on research utilization, involving social science or other kinds of knowledge related to hazards and disasters, would provide an opportunity for the collaborative international research called for in Chapter 6.

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