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Assessing the Impacts of Public Participation: Concepts, Evidence and Policy Implications

This 2006 Research Report was written by Julia Abelson and François-Pierre Gauvin for the (now defunct) Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN). The arguments for engaging Canadians at all stages of the policy process are clear and overwhelming. Citizens demand a more meaningful role in policy development. Engagement is a powerful antidote to voter disaffection with political institutions. It means greater policy effectiveness and legitimacy, and it fosters inclusion and social cohesion.

Assessing the Impacts of Public Participation explores what we know about assessing the impact of citizen engagement on both the policy process and on the subsequent political and civic behaviour of the citizen participants.


On page 9, the report quotes from a 2004 paper (Rowe G and Frewer LJ. “Evaluating public participation exercises: A research agenda.” Science,Technology, and Human Values 2004, 29(4): 512-556.) to list the following “outcome criteria”:

  • Policy/Decision Influence
  • Time to develop regulations
  • Reduce/eliminate judicial challenges
  • Agency responsiveness to participants’ policy demands
  • Public views incorporated into decisionmaking
  • Influence on public
  • Social impact
  • Impact on general thinking
  • Effect on public and plan support
  • Participants’ values/opinions changed
  • Interaction with lay knowledge (impact on lay learning)
  • Effect on staff and planning process
  • Impact on training (learning of knowledgeable personnel)
  • Staff awareness
  • Conflict resolution
  • Restoring public trust in public agencies
  • Perceptions of consultation by MPs, public, media (i.e., perceived success/failure)
  • Effectiveness and cost effectiveness
  • Procedural impact of the mechanism

Resource Link: http://ncdd.org/files/etc/AbelsonGauvin-AssessingImpactsOfP2.pdf (free download from the NCDD site)


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