Factors influencing participation of local government officials in environmental policy making and implementation
Funding:  U.S. EPA and the National Science Foundation
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Project Summary

From 1996-1998 we investigated motivations behind decisions by local government officials (LGOs) to participate in environmental policy making and implementation. LGO participation is recognized as a critical component of successful policy outcomes. We explored the factors that shaped or influenced the decisions of locally elected or officially appointed persons to participate in EPA National Estuary Program processes in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. We studied both participants and non-participants.

In the first phase of our study we found that factors influencing the LGO’s decisions to participate were associated with: the character of individuals, perceptions of the context, and with the characteristics of the process. The factors that we identified through the interviews were related to nine themes: efficacy and progress, preferences for a participatory experience, clear objectives, estuary project support and resources, personal values, past experiences, time, municipal support and resources, and socio-political context.

In the second phase of our study we used Q methodology to find coherent narratives that captured basic perspectives LGOs took toward the opportunity to participate in a watershed management planning process. We found a link between judgments about the process and preferences for outcome characteristics.

Read more about the theoretical background of this project.

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