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Designing Public Participation: Managing Problem Settings and Social Equity

Journal Title Public Administration Review
Published Date November 02, 2017
Research Type
Authors Jill Clark


Researchers suggest that inequity and disparities in public participation in the policy-making process will go hand in hand unless public managers and community leaders are attentive to these concerns when they are designing participation opportunities. Previous research has considered how the design of participatory opportunities can address inequity, but it has provided few insights into what is behind design choices. This article provides a theoretical framework that links public managers' and community leaders' perspectives on their own political efficacy and sources of their efficacy, yielding four types of “designers.” The research hypothesizes that these types have different narratives of social equity in participation that affect their design choices. Data from more than 100 public managers and community leaders provide preliminary support for these relationships. Findings suggest that inequitable public participation will persist unless designers consider what is behind their choices, focusing first on understanding the problem setting, or their narrative of equity in public participation.

Clark, JK. (2018). Designing public participation: Managing problem settings and social equity. Public Administration Review, 78(3), 362-374.

Winner of the William E. Mosher and Frederick C. Mosher Award for Best Research Article published in Public Administration Review, 2019