(How Well) Do Collaborative Processes Work? Scale Effects in Evaluation Approaches
7 Pages Posted: 21 May 2010
Evaluation of collaborative processes is an important source of insights for improving public decisions and conflict management practice, as well as a basis for validation of individual interventions for stakeholders, funders, and the field of conflict management as a whole. In this article, we conducted an exploration of how best to use information about past collaborative processes to inform future collaborative practices in environmental and other public decisions. Our ultimate purpose is to characterize the extent and kinds of information about collaborative processes that might help to fully understand and characterize what worked and what did not work in specific collaborative planning processes. We aim to pinpoint the kind of evaluation that contributes to all stages of collaborative processes from assessment to the implementation of agreements, as well as to the reflective practice of interveners. The U.S Institute of Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR) engaged in the careful design of a data collection instrument and of a data base for accumulating information about environmental conflicts handled through intervention and consensus building. We discuss the USIECR survey instrument and what it can yield. We describe briefly one Oregon mediation case (Aggregate Mining) for which participants had responded to the USIECR survey. After conducting interviews with some of the participants and interveners in this case, we compare the insights gained through direct interviewing to those that can be derived from the USIECR database, to assess what each approach can contribute to improving collaborative decision making practice.
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