How Participatory Should Environmental Governance Be? Testing the Applicability of the Vroom-Yetton-Jago Model in Public Environmental Decision-Making

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Public participation is potentially useful to improve public environmental decision-making and management processes. In corporate management, the Vroom-Yetton-Jago normative decision-making model has served as a tool to help managers choose appropriate degrees of subordinate participation for effective decision-making given varying decision-making contexts. But does the model recommend participatory mechanisms that would actually benefit environmental management? This study empirically tests the improved Vroom-Jago version of the model in the public environmental decision-making context. To this end, the key variables of the Vroom-Jago model are operationalized and adapted to a public environmental governance context. The model is tested using data from a meta-analysis of 241 published cases of public environmental decision-making, yielding three main sets of findings: (1) The Vroom-Jago model proves limited in its applicability to public
environmental governance due to limited variance in its recommendations. We show that adjustments to key model equations make it more likely to produce meaningful recommendations. (2) We find that in most of the studied cases, public environmental managers (implicitly) employ levels of participation close to those that would have been recommended by the model. (3) An ANOVA revealed that such cases, which conform to model recommendations, generally perform better on stakeholder acceptance and environmental standards of outputs than those that diverge from the model. Public environmental management thus benefits from carefully selected and context-sensitive modes of participation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)249-262
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2018

    Research areas

  • Sustainability Science - Vroom-Yetton Model, Vroom-Jago Model, Decision support, Environmental management, Participation, Stakeholder engagement