Societal Effects of Collaborative Decision-Making in Florida: The Impact of Environmental Conflict Resolution Institutions on Public Choice, Civic Culture and Environmental Management Systems
31 Pages Posted: 25 May 2005
Date Written: February 14, 2005
Hailed as a route to improved public decision making, civic engagement, and power sharing in an increasingly contentious world, collaborative decision making (CDM) has become an important mainstay of contemporary environmental planning and policy practice. As described by CDM theorists, collaborative decision making not only improves substantive outcomes, but also transforms participants, professional behaviors and institutional structures in ways that broadly improve the substance and process of societal decision making. Few empirical studies demonstrate these broader claims, however. The present research outlines a conceptual framework for assessing decision process, decision outcome and social/environmental system impacts of collaborative planning. The framework anticipates three scales of impact: participant/group, professional/organizational, and societal/environmental system. We go on to apply the framework to the design of a study of the systemic and cumulative effects of 20 years of extensive collaborative policy processes in Florida. This study utilizes comparative case histories, a survey of professionals, and content analysis of stakeholder newsletters to compare planning outcomes in Florida today with those in Florida twenty years ago, before the advent of extensive collaborative processes, and to compare planning outcomes in Florida with those in Georgia, a neighboring and similar state which has not implemented collaborative processes with vigor.
Keywords: Collaborative decision making, public policy, cumulative impacts
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