The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making
these chapters. Second, some often-stated principles bear repeating because they are so often violated in practice.
The principles presented in these three chapters overlap to some degree, as is often the case in describing effective practices. We begin by summarizing the main finding from our review of the evidence on management and then discuss more specific points along with the supporting evidence.
Basic principles of program management apply to environmental public participation. When government agencies engage in public participation processes with clarity of purpose, commitment, adequate resources, appropriate timing, an implementation focus, and a commitment to learning, they increase the likelihood of good results. When they fail to do these things or lack adequate organizational capacity, the results are likely to fall short of the potential of public participation.
Public participation activities share a number of features with other programs that government agencies and other organizations run: they require planning, resources, coordination, implementation, and the like. It should therefore not be surprising to see that much of the advice on how to run these programs echoes basic principles of program management such as can be found in the research literature on organizational management and on management of relationships between organizations and outside constituencies (Blundel, 2004). This section discusses aspects of the practice of public participation that are matters of basic program management and reviews what is known about good management practice, drawing from both the general management literature and from experience with environmental public participation.
CLARITY OF PURPOSE
When responsible agency develops a clear set of objectives for a participatory process, integrated with a plan for how the outcomes of the process will be used and with serious efforts to share that understanding with the participants, it increases the likelihood of acceptance of agency decisions and of public willingness to engage in future participation efforts. By doing these things, government agencies fulfill widespread expectations that they will play a leading role in setting the agenda for policy discussions and making public purposes clear (Hibbing and Theiss-Moore, 2001). Public participation processes tend to yield better results when the clear purpose reflects an agreement about goals among the convening organization and the participants and when it takes account of the objectives of all parties involved, the scope of legally possible actions, and the constraints on the process.
Several lines of evidence support the proposition that clarity of purpose is conducive to success in public participation. This proposition is, first