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Using Social Goals To Evaluate Public Participation In Environmental Decisions


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  • Thomas C. Beierle
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    The need to increase public participation in environmental decision-making is receiving renewed attention at all levels of government. However, there are few approaches to evaluating these processes that address the question: What are we getting from public participation? This article proposes one way to answer this question using a framework that evaluates the outcomes of participatory processes using a set of "social" goals. These social goals are: 1) educating the public; 2) incorporating public values, assumptions, and preferences into decision making; 3) increasing the substantive quality of decisions; 4) fostering trust in institutions; 5) reducing conflict; and 6) making decisions cost-effectively. Although these goals apply to public participation writ large, there are a limited number of formalized mechanisms available to public agencies for involving the public. The article matches these six social goals to the participatory mechanisms by which they might be achieved. It concludes with areas for further research suggested by the framework. Copyright 1999 by The Policy Studies Organization.

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    Article provided by Policy Studies Organization in its journal Review of Policy Research.

    Volume (Year): 16 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 3-4 (09)
    Pages: 75-103

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:revpol:v:16:y:1999:i:3-4:p:75-103

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    Cited by:
    1. Walter, Alexander I. & Helgenberger, Sebastian & Wiek, Arnim & Scholz, Roland W., 2007. "Measuring societal effects of transdisciplinary research projects: Design and application of an evaluation method," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 325-338, November.
    2. Seungho Lee & Gye-Woon Choi, 2012. "Governance in a River Restoration Project in South Korea: The Case of Incheon," Water Resources Management, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(5), pages 1165-1182, March.
    3. Beierle, Thomas & Cayford, Jerrell, 2001. "Evaluating Dispute Resolution as an Approach to Public Participation," Discussion Papers, Resources For the Future dp-01-40, Resources For the Future.
    4. Abelson, Julia & Eyles, John & McLeod, Christopher B. & Collins, Patricia & McMullan, Colin & Forest, Pierre-Gerlier, 2003. "Does deliberation make a difference? Results from a citizens panel study of health goals priority setting," Health Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 95-106, October.
    5. Santos, Rui & Antunes, Paula & Baptista, Gualter & Mateus, Pedro & Madruga, Luisa, 2006. "Stakeholder participation in the design of environmental policy mixes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 100-110, November.
    6. √Čric Montpetit, 2003. "Public Consultations in Policy Network Environments: The Case of Assisted Reproductive Technology Policy in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, University of Toronto Press, vol. 29(1), pages 95-109, March.


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