Ny EWMA PhD: Risk communication and traceability processes in trust building


PhD Melania Borit

As a consequence of the controversies around extending petroleum activities in the Lofoten-Vesterålen area and in the Arctic, the trust of the Norwegian public in the petroleum industry is falling, especially when it comes to trusting the industry’s environmental discourse. The present study suggests solutions to overcoming this trust problem.

MSc in International Fisheries Management / LLM in Maritime Law Melania Borit at NFH defended April 14th publicly to the PhD-degree in Social Sciencs the thesis:

“Trust and traceability. Using culturally tailored environmental risk communication and transparency as trust-building tools”

About the thesis

Having complexity science as underlying theory, this research builds up on the ideas that: a) risk communication is more effective if it adapts to the culture of the audience, and b) traceability is a good tool for trust-building.

Trust-building depends on culture, thus risk communication should be culture-customized. Using a numerical model of the formalized links between four cultural dimensions and cognitive trust-building processes (CTBP), the sequence for invoking these processes in the human mind is calculated. This model can be used by risk communicators as a tool to culturally customize their discourse. Trust is enabled by transparency which in turn is connected to traceability. Traceability is poorly defined and this study offers a comprehensive solution. Moreover, contrary to expectations, traceability is poorly implemented by the EU legislation. Considering petroleum nonhazardous production waste (e.g. drill cuttings) as products, traceability could be implemented in their distribution systems, contributing thus to increased transparency in the oil industry.




  • Professor Petter Holm, NFH
  • Seniorforsker MSc Petter Olsen, Nofima

Evaluating Committee:

  • Dr. Heiner Lehr, Syntesa Partners and Associates, Spania (1st oponent)
  • Dr. Flaminio Squazzoni, University of Brescia, Italia (2nd oponent)
  • Professor Bjørn Hersoug, NFH (internal member and head of committee)

The dissertation was held in English and led by Vice-Dean  Michaela Aschan, Faculty of bio-sciences, fisheries and economics.

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