Pathways to Implementation: Evidence on How Participation in Environmental Governance Impacts on Environmental Outcomes

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There is much enthusiasm among scholars and public administrators for participatory and collaborative modes of governance as a means to tackle contemporary environmental problems. Participatory and collaborative approaches are expected to both enhance the environmental standard of the outputs of decision-making processes and improve the implementation of these outputs. In this article, we draw on a database of 307 coded published cases of public environmental decision-making to identify key pathways via which participation fosters effective environmental governance. We develop a conceptual model of the hypothesized relationship between participation, environmental outputs, and implementation, mediated by intermediate (social) outcomes such as social learning or trust building. Testing these assumptions through structural equation modeling and exploratory factor analysis, we find a generally positive effect of participation on the environmental standard of governance outputs, in particular where communication intensity is high and where participants are delegated decision-making power. Moreover, we identify two latent variables—convergence of stakeholder perspectives and stakeholder capacity building—to mediate this relationship. Our findings point to a need for treating complex and multifaceted phenomena such as participation in a nuanced manner, and to pay attention to how particular mechanisms work to foster a range of social outcomes and to secure more environmentally effective outputs and their implementation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)383-399
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 23.06.2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Public Management Research Association.