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Why Do Bureaucrats Consider Public Consultation Statements (or Not)? Information Processing in Public Organizations

Part of the Executive Politics and Governance book series (EXPOLGOV)

Abstract

Fink and Ruffing discuss a public participation procedure recently introduced in Germany and demonstrate that public participation has almost no effect on bureaucratic decision-making. Building on exchange theory and reputation theory, the chapter shows that public organizations include only those consultation statements (with those pieces of information) needed for organizational survival into their decisions. This attention-directing logic allows public organizations to act on consultation statements. Without internal heuristics that structure the processing of statements, organizations would be paralysed by the number and ambiguity of statements. On the downside, this attention-directing logic creates blind spots. Thus, the authors argue, selective perception is simultaneously necessary to ensure that organizations can process information at all, and dangerous as it may preclude the processing of new and vital information.

Keywords

  • Public participation
  • Reputation
  • Exchange theory
  • Bounded rationality

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Fig. 11.1

Notes

  1. 1.

    For example, for the power line P33: Trassenneubau: Netzausbau Wolmirstedt—Helmstedt—Wahle, the key words are P33 Wolmirstedt Helmstedt Wahle. As some power lines have the same starting point or end point, the condition was that both the starting point and the end point (or the intermediate point) needed to appear in the submission (e.g. Wolmirstedt AND Wahle).

  2. 2.

    For example, if project P25 Barlt-Heide had been especially contentious in Prasdorf, we added that location as a keyword to identify this project in a submission. Or if a project was called Südwestkuppelleitung, we added that keyword.

  3. 3.

    For example, keywords for legal arguments were as follows: gesetz verordnung richtlinie raumverträglichkeit rauminanspruchnahme raumwiderstand anwalt ‘§’ rechtlich grundrecht raumordnung planfeststellung regelwerke absatz EnWG Enwg NABEG EnLAG Enlag GG EEG. If any one of those terms occurred in the submission, it was coded as containing legal arguments. A single submission may contain multiple kinds of arguments, but the overall coding is binary: submission contains legal arguments, yes or no; contains political arguments, yes or no; and so on.

  4. 4.

    Krippendorff’s alpha is 0.9.

  5. 5.

    The ‘Bestätigung Netzentwicklungsplan Strom 2012’ of the FNA, available at https://data.netzausbau.de/2022/NEP/NEP2022_Bestaetigung.pdf [accessed 30.10.2017].

  6. 6.

    The rejection of measure 69 and the approval of measure 61. With regard to measure 69, the report states that the necessity of the grid measure was doubted by the consultation participants. In addition, the TSOs were not able to present conclusive data on the necessity of grid measure 69, which is why the FNA rejected the measure. Measure 61 entails an upgrade of an existing electric line. In its decision document, the FNA reported that the content of the submissions regarding this measure is reflected in the decision . Looking into the submissions, only one submission addressed measure 61 and welcomed the proposal to include this upgrade project in the network development plan.

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Fink, S., Ruffing, E. (2019). Why Do Bureaucrats Consider Public Consultation Statements (or Not)? Information Processing in Public Organizations. In: Bach, T., Wegrich, K. (eds) The Blind Spots of Public Bureaucracy and the Politics of Non‐Coordination. Executive Politics and Governance. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-76672-0_11

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