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Are public meetings effective platforms for gathering environmental management preferences that most local stakeholders share?

Rasch, Rebecca
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.245 pp. 496-503
citizen participation, collective action, data collection, environmental management, households, land management, stakeholders
This analysis tests the theory of the collective action problem by comparing data collected from public meetings with data collected through a random sample of households, to better understand how representative preferences expressed during public meetings are of local stakeholders within a defined social area of influence. While previous studies have focused on the lack of representative participation at public meetings, this work moves beyond the concepts of who comes to the table and why and instead, explores the way that a public engagement process, may or may not provide planners with a representative understanding of local stakeholder preferences. The findings suggest that even when starting with a comprehensive stakeholder analysis, creating space for facilitated dialogue, and carefully curating discussions to focus on shared preferences, public meetings - though highly valuable as a tool for engagement - may not be effective platforms for gathering a comprehensive understanding of the land management preferences that most local stakeholders share.