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Making a difference: On the constraints of consensus building and the relevance of deliberation in stakeholder dialogues


  • Marleen Kerkhof



This article illuminates the contribution of stakeholder dialogues to environmental policy making. It makes a distinction between stakeholder dialogues as consensus building and stakeholder dialogues as deliberation. Although consensus building seems to be the dominant approach in participatory environmental policy making, this article questions the merits of consensus building and it uses the experience of the Dutch stakeholder dialogue project Climate OptiOns for the Long term (COOL) to explore, in a deliberative design, the shortcomings of a consensus-building approach and how they are possibly dealt with. The article presents the results of two deliberative methods that have been used in the COOL project – the repertory grid analysis and the dialectical approach – to demonstrate how a deliberative design can help policy makers to critically assess arguments in favor of and against a broad range of policy options, and deal with stakeholder conflict in an early phase of the policy process. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLP 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Marleen Kerkhof, 2006. "Making a difference: On the constraints of consensus building and the relevance of deliberation in stakeholder dialogues," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 39(3), pages 279-299, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:policy:v:39:y:2006:i:3:p:279-299
    DOI: 10.1007/s11077-006-9024-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hoogerwerf, Andries, 1990. "Reconstructing policy theory," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 285-291, January.
    2. Coglianese, Cary, 2001. "Is Consensus an Appropriate Basis for Regulatory Policy?," Working Paper Series rwp01-012, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Bernd Siebenhuner, 2004. "Social learning and sustainability science: which role can stakeholder participation play?," International Journal of Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 7(2), pages 146-163.
    4. William N. Dunn, 1988. "Methods Of The Second Type: Coping With The Wilderness Of Conventional Policy Analysis," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 7(4), pages 720-737, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cuppen, Eefje & Breukers, Sylvia & Hisschemöller, Matthijs & Bergsma, Emmy, 2010. "Q methodology to select participants for a stakeholder dialogue on energy options from biomass in the Netherlands," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 579-591, January.
    2. Suwichit Chaidaroon & Kawpong Polyorat, 2013. "CSR and Stakeholder Dialogue: A Case Study of Sugar Cane Company in Thailand," International Journal of Business and Social Research, MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, vol. 3(8), pages 57-65, August.
    3. Sarkki, Simo & Heikkinen, Hannu I., 2015. "Why do environmentalists not consider compromises as legitimate?," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 110-117.
    4. repec:eee:appene:v:225:y:2018:i:c:p:221-232 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:ecoser:v:16:y:2015:i:c:p:174-181 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Cuppen, Eefje, 2012. "A quasi-experimental evaluation of learning in a stakeholder dialogue on bio-energy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 624-637.
    7. Heffron, Raphael J., 2013. "The application of contrast explanation to energy policy research: UK nuclear energy policy 2002–2012," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 602-616.
    8. Roelofsen, Anneloes & Boon, Wouter P.C. & Kloet, Roy R. & Broerse, Jacqueline E.W., 2011. "Stakeholder interaction within research consortia on emerging technologies: Learning how and what?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 341-354, April.


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