Eliciting Public Values for Complex Policy Decisions
Several approaches exist to illuminate and clarify public values relevant for making public policy decisions. These include surveys, indirect and direct value elicitation, focus groups and public involvement. This paper describes a new approach, called the public value forum, which combines elements of focus groups and direct multiattribute value elicitation techniques. Two public value forums were conducted with selected members of the West German public to elicit values relevant for setting long term energy policies. The purposes of conducting the value forums were to examine the feasibility of eliciting values from laypeople and combining them with factual assessments of experts, to determine the extent to which values elicited formally conflict with values elicited informally, and to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the public value forum. The results indicate that the public value forum is feasible, that the participants felt comfortable with the procedure and that they were eager to resolve inconsistencies between their intuitive judgments and the multiattribute models. There was substantial conflict between the formally and informally elicited values. However, the participants were able to resolve those conflicts in the course of the value forum, tending towards more moderate alternatives in the process. The public value forum provided useful information for the policy process and education for the participants. However, because it is expensive and time consuming, its main application may involve small samples of opinion leaders and stakeholder representatives, rather than large representative samples of the general public.
Volume (Year): 36 (1990)
Issue (Month): 9 (September)
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