Understanding Participant Perspectives: Q-Methodology in National Forest Management
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 361-388, 1999
28 Pages Posted: 5 May 2011
Date Written: November 30, 1998
Many policy practitioners and theorists have argued that value-free, objective solutions to policy problems do not exist. While participant values and subjective viewpoints influence policy problems, empirically determining participant perspectives and preferences has been a daunting task. This paper demonstrates how Q-methodology, a technique for systematically revealing subjective perspectives, can contribute to better problem identification and definition, estimation and specification of policy options, and selection, implementation and evaluation of policies. Two case studies in National Forest management are reviewed and demonstrate how Q-methodology can (1) identify important internal and external constituencies; (2) define participant viewpoints and perceptions; (3) provide sharper insight into participant preferred management directions; (4) identify criteria that are important to participants, (5) explicitly outline areas of consensus and conflict; and (6) develop a common view toward the policy.
Keywords: Q-methodology, participant perspectives, national forest management
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