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Research for case studies on participatory governance is yielding many new results. More...



The concept workshop held in April provided valuable new insights. The project is continuously benefitting from the discussion with our expert panel.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE – A Comparative Meta-Analysis of Case Studies in Environmental Decision-Making

What is ECOPAG about?

Will participatory governance live up to its promise and improve environmental policy delivery? ECOPAG will critically assess this hypothesis, drawing on material from more than 100 published case studies. Such a meta-analysis will reveal patterns at work across different cases and different contexts. It will identify those participatory methods and those real-world settings that are most likely to enhance environmental effectiveness.

Project summary

Civic participation in democratic environmental decision-making is believed to have the potential to increase environmental policy delivery – compared to non-participatory forms of governance – due to better informed decisions, collective learning, stronger consideration of ‘ecological’ values as well as higher levels of acceptance and compliance. This claim has remained largely unsubstantiated by empirical data, as participation research has long focused on process characteristics and social outcomes, largely neglecting substantive (environmental) outcomes and impacts. A large number of published single case studies on (participatory) environmental decisions is available, yet a systematic comparison of the relationship between process and outcomes across cases is still lacking.

The DFG-funded research project ECOPAG (2009-2012) aims to test the above thesis by systematically integrating the scattered empirical data using a meta-analysis (case survey method). To this end, a detailed coding scheme will be designed, drawing on a careful analysis of hypotheses and causal mechanisms put forward in the relevant scholarly works, mainly in the fields of participatory governance and policy implementation research. Presumably, both the specific form of participation and the socio-ecological context are likely to influence environmental outputs and impacts. Building on an ample literature review, a database of empirical case studies of administrative environmental decision-making in different modern democratic countries is currently being developed, comprising both participatory and non-participatory cases. A selection of more than 100 case studies will be precisely coded and systematically compared with qualitative and quantitative methods so as to reveal causal mechanisms at work across cases. Based on the findings, a contribution to the conceptual integration of policy implementation and participation research and to the wider debate on the environmental effectiveness of democratic institutions is intended.

ECOPAG is associated with the research initiative EDGE (Evaluating the Delivery of Environmental Governance with Evidence-based Methods).


Key words: Public participation; collaborative management; collaborative governance; outcomes; effectiveness; knowledge; collective learning; social learning; policy implementation; case survey method; secondary analysis

Schlagwörter: Bürgerbeteiligung; Entscheidungen im öffentlichen Raum; Partizipation in Umweltgesetzgebung; Meta-analyse;