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of available knowledge rather than advances at the frontiers—and the answers are delivered on a schedule within a predetermined budget, in situations where the timing of a contribution is crucial to its impact. Most of these reports become a part of what has been called a "fugitive literature," seldom peer reviewed (though often intensely scrutinized) or cited in computer-accessible bibliographic databases, but directly impacting public and private decision makers. Although such professional work is usually associated with consulting firms and other nonacademic institutions, it is also a staple of "soft money" research centers in universities. Many leading geographers have been influential in this way, without always being identified explicitly as geographers.
A third contribution, and often the most powerful, is when geographers become a part of the decision making process, interacting on a personal, confidential basis with decision makers, drawing on a combination of formal knowledge, professional judgments, and mutual trust and effective communication. These roles are seldom reported in the published literature; in fact, the contribution often depends on maintaining confidentiality and letting others take the credit, with satisfaction derived from seeing the right kinds of policy decisions made. Many geographers, from Gilbert White and Edward Ackerman to William Garrison, John Borchert, Harold Mayer, and Brian Berry, have shaped policy in this way, but many of their accomplishments are not reported in the literature.
The problem for this chapter is reporting how geography contributes to decisions when the most powerful impacts are often the least documented—and the least documentable. Given the constraints inherent in the complicated relationship between science and government on the one hand and academia and business on the other, the committee has tried to emphasize subjects rather than specific impacts, offering a mix of evidence based mainly on the open literature but also referring in some cases to personal contributions that extend beyond formal publications. The committee has also tried to highlight issues where it believes geographers should be contributing to well-informed decisions but, for a variety of reasons, are not now contributing in significant ways.
The next section of this chapter discusses the various decision making "arenas" in which geographers work. The following sections illustrate geography's contributions at several scales: regional and local, national, and international.
Arenas for Decisions
Geographers and geographic perspectives have found important application in decision making in both the private and the public sectors. Geographers serve the public sector in many different roles, as government employees, consultants, private citizens, and volunteers for public advisory boards at levels from local to international. Private sector companies frequently use geographers and geographic knowledge to make location, routing, and marketing decisions and for