Involving the public: when are surveys and stakeholder interviews most effective?

Abstract:

Scholars and practitioners alike advocate involving stakeholders in environmental decision making, although there is uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of public involvement tools and the degree of public involvement in the decision making process. Some researchers have gone a step further to promote the use of public surveys and stakeholder interviews as preferred means to include public concerns in environmental decision making. However, there is little evidence as to whether public involvement tools are effective at representing public preferences, especially when there is a shortage of technical infor- mation to inform public opinion. This study examines the effectiveness of surveys and stakeholder inter- views for assessing the District of Columbia’s environmental problems in a comparative risk assessment. The findings suggest that these public involvement tools are less effective when there is a shortage of technical data. Instead, more deliberative forms of public involvement may generate greater convergence of opinion regarding environmental problems.

Full Paper 

Darnall N & Jolley GJ. 2004. Involving the public: when are surveys and stakeholder interviews most effective?Review of Policy Research 21(4) 581-594.