such conclusions. Various public participation formats have been successful in achieving the goals of high-quality and widely acceptable assessments and decisions, and each format has also failed at times in achieving these goals.

Many terms have come into use over time to describe ways of organizing participatory processes. Numerous typologies of them can be found in the published literature (e.g., Creighton, 2005). Some terms refer to broad “formats.” Examples include public hearings, scoping meetings, focus groups, workshops, open houses, charrettes, listening sessions, advisory committees, blue-ribbon commissions, summits, policy dialogues, negotiated rule-making, task forces, town meetings, citizen juries, study circles, future search conferences, online deliberation, and deliberative polling. Other terms refer to more specific practices, tools, or techniques that can be used together with particular formats. These include working groups, panels, debates, field trips, web sites, listservs, voting, consensus-building exercises, professional facilitation, process steering committees, visioning exercises, decision analysis exercises, scenario-building exercises, participatory budgeting, media campaigns, surveys, various educational or outreach activities, and so forth. The International Association for Public Participation, for example, offers a “toolbox” of dozens of such tools and techniques, classified by the purposes for which they are commonly used (see

Frequently, different formats share practices in common or a single format is flexible enough that it can, under the right circumstances, integrate practices that are usually associated with a another format. As a result, processes called by the same name can look quite different in use, and processes with different names can have many specific components in common. For example, an expert panel can be assembled and integrated into virtually all the formats above, as can many other specific practices. Table 5-1 identifies and distinguishes three broad classes of public participation formats for purposes of reference.

Even a process that is tightly controlled by an agency may include a limited participatory role for the public. Information dissemination, not listed in the table, is sometimes considered to be a kind of public participation, albeit a very passive one (Creighton, 1999; Zarger, 2003). Conventional rule-making procedures often require that agencies publish a proposed regulation and allow a period of time for public comment before finalizing and implementing the rule (see Chapter 2). Such processes are open to the public, and they may or may not influence decision outcomes (e.g., Creighton, 1999; Beierle and Cayford, 2002; Zarger, 2003; Langbein, 2005). Information exchange, as noted in the table, allows for somewhat more interaction but still leaves little space for public influence.

Advisory committees and similar activities encourage a more active role

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement