Using Social Goals To Evaluate Public Participation In Environmental Decisions
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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Volume (Year): 16 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3-4 (September)
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