, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 189-214

Public participation in decision making: A three-step procedure

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This article introduces a novel model of public particpation in political decisions. Structured in three consecutive steps, the model is based on the view that stakeholders, experts, and citizens should each contribute to the planning effort their particular expertise and experience. Stakeholders are valuable resources for eliciting concerns and developing evaluative criteria since their interests are at stake and they have already made attempts to structure and approach the issue. Experts are necessary to provide the data base and the functional relationships between options and impacts. Citizens are the potential victims and benefactors of proposed planning measures; they are the best judges to evaluate the different options available on the basis of the concerns and impacts revealed through the other two groups. The three-step model has been developed and frequently applied as a planning tool in West Germany. We compare this experience with the model's first application in the United States, and conclude that the three-step procedure offers a limited, but promising future for democratizing policy making in the United States.