New agendas for appraisal: reflections on theory, practice, and research
Appraisal -- defined here to include a variety of ex ante techniques and procedures that seek to predict and evaluate the consequences of certain human actions -- has been afforded an increasingly important role in environmental policy. We argue in this paper, however, that both the nature of appraisal and its role in the political process have been inadequately conceptualised. Exploring a literature that has tended to polarise 'technical' and 'deliberative' models, we identify a need for sensitive selection and combination of approaches, taking account of both the object and the objective of appraisal in particular contexts. We suggest that an important role for appraisal (by design or by default) may be that of providing spaces for dialogue and learning in the making of policies and decisions. A better understanding of such processes requires further research, particularly well-designed longitudinal work involving retrospective and 'real time' studies of appraisal in practice.
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