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DEBUNKING THE MYTHS OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

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Agencies commonly incorporate public participation programs into facilities siting, integrated resource management plans, proposals to increase rates and other major initiatives. Despite the important role public participation plays in agency communication programs and decision making, surprisingly little scientific research has been conducted about how to do it well. Instead, managers and communication professionals rely mostly on instinct and anecdotal evidence when developing programs to involve the public in agency decision making.

This paper will describe a quantitative study of effective public participation and the implications for policy makers, project managers and communication professionals. The study debunks one of the most commonly held principles of effective public participation. In doing so, the study shows that however intuitively satisfying and commonly accepted a concept may be, it cannot be considered valid until tested through a scientifically rigorous research model, something rarely found in the communication field.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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